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New Revised Edition 




Revised and Enlarged Edition 




Assistant Secretary at the War Office 

With an Introduction by 

D.C.L., LL.D. 

Secretary of State for War 



First Published April 1935 

Printed in Great Britain at 
The Westminster Press 
4113 Harrow Road 


IT is recorded of the late Marshal Foch that when 
taking part in the great Victory Procession through 
London in July, 1919, he expressed to his friend, 
Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, his surprise at 
finding that a procession in celebration of the 
triumph of the nation's military forces should be 
headed by a policeman. "But, my dear Marshal," 
Wilson replied, "there you have the British Consti- 
tution in a nutshell the subordination of the 
military power to the civil authority." 

The problem of reconciling military efficiency 
with civilian control is the key to the story of the 
War Office; the existence of that problem affords 
the explanation of many of the essential differences 
which distinguish the War Office from the great 
civilian departments, and which cannot fail to strike 
any reader of the preceding volumes of this series. 
The civilian departments are staffed entirely by 
permanent Civil Servants who normally spend the 
whole of their career of some 40 years in the same 
office. A large part of the War Office, on the other 
hand, is staffed by military officers who vacate their 
appointments after four years. There is thus a con- 
stant infusion of new blood, a continuous impact of 
fresh minds on military problems, and a perpetual 
interchange between the War Office and the Army 


outside. The result is an alertness and keenness and 
freshness of outlook which make the War Office a 
very live department. It used to be feared that there 
was friction between the civilian and the military 
element, and that the permanence of the former 
gave it a preponderating influence. Whether or not 
there was any foundation for that fear in the past, 
nothing could be less true to-day. Nowhere will you 
find better team work or closer co-operation than 
exist between all the various sections in the War 
Office of the present day. Everyone, soldier and 
civilian alike, is imbued with one common purpose, 
that of giving the British taxpayer the best possible 
Army for the money provided by Parliament in the 
Annual Estimates; for it cannot be too strongly 
emphasised that the size and the distribution of the 
British Army depend on questions of policy which 
rest with the Government of the day and for which 
the War Office has no responsibility. 

Another point which cannot fail to strike the 
reader of the following pages is the enormous range 
and variety of the duties which the War Office is 
called upon to perform. Apart altogether from purely 
military problems, questions of health, of education, 
of training for civilian employment, the construction 
and repair of roads and buildings, the maintenance 
of communications, and the administration of a code 
of law are only some of the matters which fall 
within its purview. 

Mr. Gordon's book, which brilliantly maintains 
the high standard set by its predecessors in the 
series, appears at an opportune moment. At a time 
when, as the result of a prolonged period of unilateral 


disarmament, the country is compelled to overhaul 
its Defences, it is well that the public should be 

g'ven an insight into the work of the Department of 
overnment which controls our small Regular Army 
and our Territorial Forces, upon whose devotion and 
efficiency we depend so largely for the security of 
our Empire and for the maintenance of the peace of 
the world. 


February 14th. 1935 


THIS book is an attempt to set forth for the general 
reader what the War Office exists to do, with some 
account of bygone times and the almost incredible 
omissions and errors which marked the slow process 
of evolution from past chaos to present order. For 
the benefit of those who are not well acquainted with 
the subtle beauties of military language, technical 
phrases have been used sparingly; and a table of 
dates has been placed at the beginning for the re- 
freshment of that rare reader whose memory of school 
history is as comfortably vague as the author's own. 

On matters of fact and of legal theory free use has 
been made of the standard works on military and 
constitutional history. These are mentioned in the 
Notes at the end, together with some modern books 
which deal in detail with particular subjects. To 
compress the history and work of the War Office 
within the limits of a volume of modest size is neces- 
sarily a task of selection ; and the writer is conscious 
that gaps may be found. Any expressions of opinion 
are the author's own, and must not be assumed to be 
endorsed officially. 

The author is indebted to Sir Herbert Greedy, 
the present Permanent Under-Secretary of State, 
for kind help and encouragement, and to many 
colleagues, military and civilian, for generous and 
willing assistance. TT p 


1066-1 154. The Norman Reigns. 

1 1 54-1 399. The Plantagenet Reigns, 

1 1 8 i . The Assize of Arms. 

1215. Magna Carta. 

1285. The Statute of Winchester. 

1327. Parliament resists "commissions of 

array. " 

1399-1485. The Lancastrian and Torfyst Reigns. 

1483. Definite creation of an Ordnance 


1485-1603. The Tudor Reigns. 

17 th Century: 
1 620-1 62 1 . Appearance of a "Council of War." 

1628. Petition of Right presented to 

Charles I. 

1645. Cromwell creates the New Model 


1660. The Restoration. "Guards and Gar- 

risons" allowed to Charles II. 

1 66 1 . Sir W. Clarke appointed "Secretaty- 



1688- 1689, The Revolution. The Declaration of 
Right. The first Mutiny Act. 

1697. Peace of Ryswick ends William Ill's 
campaigns against Louis XIV. 

1 8 th Century: 

1704. The post of "Secretary-at-War" is 
made political. 

1707. Union of the military establish- 

ments of England and Scotland. 

1713. Treaty of Utrecht ends Marl- 

borough's campaigns in the War 
of the Spanish Succession. 

1715 & 1745. Jacobite risings. 

1748. Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle ends the 

War of the Austrian Succession. 

1756. Seven Years' War begins. 

1757. Clive and the battle of Plassey. 
1759. Wolfe at Quebec. 

1763. Peace of Paris ends the Seven Years' 

1775. War with the American Colonies 

1783. Burke's Act for Economical Reform. 
Secrctary-at-War made responsible 
to Parliament. 

1 793. War declared by the French Repub- 
lic. Office of Commander-in-Chief 


1794. A Secretary of State for War ap- 


1795. The Duke of York becomes Com- 



1800. Military establishments of Great 

Britain and Ireland united. 

1 80 1. The Secretary of State for War 

becomes Secretary of State for 
War and the Colonies. 

1815. The battle of Waterloo. 

1837. Accession of Queen Victoria. Lord 
Howick's commission on central- 
isation of offices. 

1842-1852. The Duke of Wellington Com- 


184682: 1852. Sidney Herbert Secretary-at- War. 

1854-1856. The Crimean War. A Secretary of 
State for War absorbs the Secre- 
tary-at-War. Abolition of the 
Board of Ordnance. 

1856. The Duke of Cambridge appointed 

General Commanding-in-Chief. 

1857. The War Department becomes the 

"War Office." 

1 859. Revival of the Volunteer Movement. 

1864-1866. Prussian military successes against 
Denmark and Austria. 


1868-1874. The Card well reforms. 

1870. The Franco-Prussian War. 

The War Office and the Horse 
Guards placed under one roof. 
Re-organisation in three divisions. 

1 88 i. Mr. Childers's "territorial" Act. 

1882. Egyptian War and Tel-el-Kebir. 

1884-1885. The Nile campaign against the 

1889. Hartington Commission appointed. 

1899. South African War, 1899-1902. 


1904. Esher Committee. Creation of the 

Army Council. 

1905-1912. Lord Haldane Secretary of State for 

1906. The War Office leaves Pall Mall. 

1907. Territorial and Reserve Forces Act. 
1914-1918. The Great War. 


CHAPTER I. Largely Concerning Origins 


CHAPTER II. Parliament Gives Consent 



From the Revolution to 


the Crimea (1689-1854) 


The Tide of Reform 






Military Policy and the 
General Staff 



The Matter of Men 



The Matter of 




The Matter of Arms 



Matters for Ministers 



Army Finance 



The Central Department 



CHAPTER XIII. In the Great War 284 

CHAPTER XIV. Post-War 3 1 6 


L List of Secretaries of State for War 335 

II. Table of Precedence of the Corps, etc., 

of the Army 338 


INDEX 349 

The references in the text to [C. ], [CW. ] or 
[Cmd. ] are to the official numbers of Command 
Papers^ i.e., reports or Memoranda presented to Parlia- 


Chapter I 

A CERTAIN mistiness confronts the author whose 
task is to trace the early development of a central 
office for Army affairs. He is tempted to ignore the 
periods of mist and to plunge at once into the 
nineteenth century where the light is clear and 
the records abound; or at least to start from the 
Restoration of King Charles II, when a standing 
army came into being. But he cannot escape so 
easily. He is well aware that the intelligent reader, 
however little he may remember clearly of "1066 
and all that/' will recollect such names as Crcy 
and Agincourt, will have memories of early pages 
of history which bristled with battles and picturesque 
details of warring barons and fighting kings, and 
may expect to be told how military affairs were 
conducted in those far-off days. Nor would such a 
demand be unreasonable : for the administration of an 
army, the day-to-day provision of food and forage, 
arms, transport, clothing and so on, must at all 
times be an intricate business, and the existence of 
some crude form of a "war office" at an early stage 
in our military history might not be altogether sur- 

Certainly there is no escape from the haze, 
admittedly very much thinner in texture, which per- 
vades the seventeenth and the eighteenth centuries: 


for here is a story of past things which is essential 
to an understanding of the present a story of fears 
and political jealousies, of unheeded chaos and re- 
current panics interspersed with military successes : 
a patchwork of failures, neglects and triumphs 
through which runs, like a thread in the pattern of 
the centuries, the development of a theory of govern- 
ment which was destined to shape the modern War 
Office and to affect every aspect of its present-day 

It is clear that the search must start at the begin- 
ning, braving even the mists of that earlier period 
when details concerning military administration 
are, to quote one authority, "scarce and obscure." 
But it may be useful, if only by way of contrast, to 
glance first at existing conditions. 

The War Office is the department of the Civil 
Government which administers the military forces 
of the Crown which claim the proud title "The 
British Army." The head of the Army is His Majesty 
the King, and the management of Army affairs forms 
the special charge of a Secretary of State. The depart- 
ment of the Secretary of State for War received the 
general form of its present organisation thirty years 
ago (1904) and thirty years of escape from reform 
of the War Office must be hailed as a notable breach 
of tradition. Appropriately to this regeneration the 
Department received a new environment, for its 
nineteenth-century home in Pall Mall and sundry 
other dispersed quarters had been picturesque but 
not highly convenient. Accordingly in December, 
1906, it entered the duly imposing building whose 
western cupolas of white stone, perched high above 


the traffic of Whitehall, look down, a trifle disparag- 
ingly no doubt, on the Georgian plainness of the 
historic " Horse Guards. " 

In this new home was centred in the Great 
War the vast and widespread organisation which 
equipped and maintained the citizen armies which 
followed the Regular " Expeditionary Force" across 
the Channel and overseas. In this building is 
centred to-day a peace-time task of a size and 
complexity which "the man in the street' ' may be 
slow to believe. One may write of the shaping of 
military policy, of the problems of modern organis- 
ation, of the direction of research in its military 
aspects but such phrases, taken alone, mean little. 
The work would be described better, perhaps, as the 
central direction of a great business which includes 
in its varied and non-stop programme the recruiting 
and training, the equipment and housing, the main- 
tenance and movement, and the organisation as a 
fighting force of a highly trained professional army 
of which parts are scattered across the world in 
widely distributed garrisons, from the West Indies 
to the Mediterranean, from Aden to Malaya and 
Hong Kong. Nor does this scattered Regular Army 
of about 150,000 men stand alone in its daily needs. 
There are also the reserves and the auxiliary forces. 
The Army Reserve must be regulated in size ; the 
Supplementary Reserve must be recruited and 
trained; and the Territorial Army of 14 Divisions 
must be organised, trained and equipped with 
weapons, and requires its share of administrative 
work through the medium of County Associations. 
The effective strength of the three latter forces (the 


Reserves and the Territorial Army) amounted in 
January, 1934^0 274,000 men. The total "establish- 
ment" of all the forces, exclusive of British troops in 
India, is, in round figures, 465,000. 

The range of the task is obvious : its complexity is, 
perhaps, not so easily realised. Modern science with 
its new weapons and means of transport, its wireless 
signalling and its Air co-operation, has rendered 
organisation intricate and training a highly specialised 
art. Twelve schools of instruction for the fighting 
arms, three educational colleges for officers, twelve 
establishments for research and experiment, a college 
of science, a medical college and a host of other 
institutions such as hospitals, workshops, laundries 
and bakeries, are under the central control of the 
War Office. Further, its work is affected throughout 
by a multiplicity of civil contacts. The Department 
is the largest employer in the country: it is probably 
the largest owner of land. Its great factories are well 
known. So catholic are its interests that it maintains 
three large schools for boys, it has churches, police 
and prisons of its own, and it possesses a fleet 
though it is but a little one. Finally, its task is neces- 
sarily increased by an elaborate system of control by 
Parliament. There is scarcely a single activity of the 
War Office which is not complicated by civil aspects, 
legal, financial and parliamentary. 

The detailed work of administration is decen- 
tralised to a large extent: that is to say, it is carried 
out locally. For this purpose, and that of training, 
the Army is divided up between a number of separate 
"commands. " There are six large Commands at 
home (Aldershot, Southern, Eastern, Western 


Northern and Scottish) and two smaller Commands, 
the Northern Ireland and the London districts. The 
garrisons abroad number thirteen, and vary in size 
from the Egypt "command," where approximately 
10,000 troops are in charge of a General Officer 
Commanding, to Mauritius where a tiny garrison is 
commanded by a Lieut.-Colonel. The number of 
Regulars quoted above (roughly 1 50,000) does not, 
of course, include India; for the troops composing 
the British Army in India (some 60,000 of all ranks) 
pass into the charge of the Government of India 
from the time of embarkation for Indian stations to 
the time of their return to the "British establish- 
ment/' Much work, however, falls on the War Office 
in connection with their recruitment and training, 
their transport by sea, the business of posting, and 
the adjustment with the Government of India of the 
charges due for the services so rendered. Close touch 
must be kept on questions of pay; and the War 
Office is also largely involved in matters of promotion 
and of discipline. (The Indian Army is quite distinct 
from the British Army in India. It is a force raised 
by the Government of India, and its native person- 
nel is governed by Indian military law.) 

The Department which forms the controlling 
centre of this large and growing sphere of work is 
governed by an Army Council, which now* consists 
of eight members. At the head is the Secretary of 
State for War who is "responsible to His Majesty 
and Parliament for all the business of the Army 
Council/' There are two other ministerial officers, 
the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and the 
* Note i, page 339. 


Financial Secretary of the War Office. The Military 
Members are four in number; and the Permanent 
Under-Secretary of State for War, in addition to 
being the eighth member, is also Secretary of the 
Army Council. The Secretary of State and the two 
other political members change normally with a 
change of Government : the four Military Members 
change periodically as the tenures of their appoint- 
ments come to an end the normal period is four 
years: the Permanent Under-Secretary of State is, 
as his title suggests, a permanent civil servant. 

The Secretary of State has a general control, and 
all departments report to him through the medium 
of a member of Council. Exceptionally, there is one 
branch which reports to the Secretary of State direct. 
This is the branch of the Military Secretary to the 
Secretary of State, whose duties are concerned with 
the promotion of officers, their selection for Staff 
and other special work, and with the grant to officers 
of rewards and honours. 

Perhaps some idea of the area of work may be 
gathered from the main headings of business 
allotted, under the Secretary of State, to the seven 
other Members of Council. 

The First Military Member, whose title is Chief 
of the Imperial General Staff, is concerned with 
military policy. He is responsible for advice on the 
military aspect of the defence of the Empire; and 
consequently for the collection of military informa- 
tion, for the organisation and training of the forces 
for war, and for policy regarding the provision of 

The Second Military Member, the Adjutant- 


General to the Forces, is principally concerned with 
"personnel/* He is responsible for recruiting and 
discipline; for the peace-organisation of the forces 
and for administrative arrangements for their 
mobilisation. The supervision of the Medical 
Services is another important part of his functions. 

The Third Military Member, the Quarter-Master- 
General to the Forces, is responsible for the policy 
of the housing of the Army; for the movement of 
troops and stores ; and for food, animals and transport 
generally. His duties include the construction and 
maintenance of barracks, hospitals and all other 

The Fourth Military Member, the Master- 
General of the Ordnance, is principally concerned 
with stores. He is responsible for the scientific 
development of war material of all kinds: a duty 
which covers research, design, experiment and 
manufacture. He is responsible for the provision, 
the storage and the repair of all stores and clothing, 
and for the administration of the personnel, the 
depots, the factories and the scientific establishments 
which have to be maintained for these purposes. 

Of the two political members, who assist the 
Secretary of State to represent the Department in 
Parliament, the first, the Parliamentary Under- 
secretary of State, who is Vice-President of the 
Army Council, is charged, as his special sphere of 
business, with advice on all questions (other than 
training) affecting the Territorial Army and its 
administration by the County Associations, and all 
questions affecting Lands. The second, the Financial 
Secretary of the War Office, apart from being 


concerned with Army Finance in its general and 
ministerial aspects, has as his special sphere of 
control the policy aspects of Army Contracts. 

Finally, the Permanent Under-Secretary of State, 
who is also the Secretary of the Army Council, forms 
the co-ordinating link between the Secretary of State 
and the office in general. He has in his charge both 
the secretariat and the finance branches; and his 
duties embrace the general control of the procedure 
and conduct of the business of the office, and include 
parliamentary and legal matters, the production of 
War Office publications, and control of all civilian 
staffs; while, in his capacity as "Accounting Officer 
of Army Votes, Funds and Accounts," he is respon- 
sible for the control of expenditure and for advice 
to the Secretary of State and to the administrative 
offices on all questions of Army finance. 

From this rapid sketch two points may be noted 
which, to modern ears, are the obvious product of 
common sense rather than, as is actually the case, 
the result of long and bitter struggles. In the War 
Office as it exists to-day all the military functions of 
Army administration are concentrated in a single 
office: and not the military functions only. We find 
here an office for Army affairs which includes in its 
scope all the civil functions involved in maintaining 
national forces and in controlling military expenditure 
on behalf of Parliament and the public purse. In 
groping in the mists of the past we must look for 
the germ of a central office charged with the conduct 
of Army affairs, and for the development of the 
principle which is summed up in the well-worn 
phrase "responsibility to Parliament." 


As we start hopefully with those "Middle Ages" 
between the Conquest and the Tudor Kings in 
which arms and battles loom so large, the quest does 
not look very promising. Some mental adjustment is 
needed at once to picture the military conditions of 
the times. Scotland was an alien enemy to be feared: 
England possessed no standing army. Armies were 
collected for the service of the King as each particular 
occasion demanded. They were raised by a combin- 
ation of methods. The great landlords brought their 
own retainers; the sheriffs of counties were called 
upon by royal writ to produce a fixed quota of men 
and horses. But such service was restricted by recog- 
nised conditions either as to its duration or its place 
of employment, whereas a King might require a 
more mobile force which would fight against Scot- 
land as long as he wished, or even serve overseas 
against France. Accordingly we find that from early 
days onwards many citizens who were called to arms 
lost, as it were, their amateur status by accepting hire 
to continue serving; while numbers, at a later date, 
definitely adopted the profession of arms and banded 
together as soldiers of fortune. Thus for anything 
more than a brief campaign the armies were com- 
posed mainly of "mercenaries," and of these large 
numbers were hired from abroad; but such foreign 
imports were not popular and came to be reserved 
for expeditions overseas. 

The forces, having been duly arrayed, were con- 
trolled, under chief command of the King, by 
certain officers of the Royal Household the 
"Marshall" and the "High Constable," whose 
titles dated from Norman times. The perquisites 


of these officers were clearly defined, but exact 
information is sadly lacking as to what they did 
and how they did it, apart from assembling and 
leading the troops. Chivalry, crusades, the panoply 
of war, the bowmen of England, the grey-goose 
feather romance and colour fill the picture and 
leave little room for prosaic details. The student who 
seeks an administrative system, who enquires pre- 
cisely how campaigns were managed, how the 
soldiers were organised and trained (if at all), or 
what central arrangements were made for their 
maintenance, will arrive at the position of the student 
of philosophy who by patient perusal of all the 
authorities progresses to the knowledge of how 
little he can know. 

We learn, indeed, how the forces were raised 
and how their initial equipment was managed. All 
freemen had arms of a kind immediately on 
"mobilisation"; for these they were bound by law 
to possess. The Assize of Arms of 1 1 8 1 laid down 
that even the poorest class should have a chaplet 
of iron, a lance and a wambais, the last being 
a quilted garment. The Statute of Winchester of 
1285 set forth six classes according to means: men, 
for example, whose annual rental was from 40 to 
100 shillings were to own a bow, arrows and knife, 
and those who were blessed with very few chattels 
were at least to possess a sword or dagger. These 
arms were reviewed twice in the year. The limited 
few had coats of mail, while the rank and file wore 
their peasant's dress. The central figure was the 
mail-clad knight, but the mass of the troops were 
unarmoured peasantry whose chief weapons were 


the bow, the spear and the bill. As to transport, 
carts were obtained by the Crown by the simple 
process of seizing such things under powers known 
as the right of "purveyance." 

We can picture the way in which the forces 
were raised ; but even an army of small size cannot 
be maihtained in the field without a measure of 
organisation. Clothing must be renewed, arms re- 
placed, vehicles repaired, food and forage collected, 
the injured disposed of, pay issued (or embezzled) 
and booty roughly checked and divided. As to these 
things we know that from early times the elementary 
needs of large parts of the forces were left to the 
zeal and financial enterprise of leaders who might 
be described as " contractors/' The latter were 
usually men of position who entered into "inden- 
tures" with the King to provide detachments at so 
much a head ; and probably the care which the forces 
received was little more than casual attention to a few 
not unreasonable demands of warriors such as arms, 
food and a modicum of loot. At the end of a cam- 
paign the armies were dispersed, except the King's 
own personal guard. 

Indeed, one point emerges clearly that up to 
the end of the Tudor reigns and the early decades 
of the seventeenth century there did not exist any 
forces of the Crown, other than a small royal body- 
guard, which called for continuous central adminis- 
tration. Throughout the war-filled centuries which 
precede the Commonwealth and the Restoration, 
armies are mustered and led to battle as the par- 
ticular occasion demands, and are dispersed again 
when the fighting is over. The military functions 


of the high controlling officers are only in evidence 
when a war is being waged. It is no matter for 
surprise, therefore, that administration in the larger 
sense of central direction or co-ordination of method 
remains in the region of mist and conjecture. Much as 
we may regret the omission, no embryo "war office" 
makes its appearance to bequeath more detailed in- 
formation in a neat array of "registered files. " No 
necessity existed to mother the invention. 

But the search for origins does not fail entirely. 
The King's wardrobe included an armoury, and his 
wardrobe of arms was situated at the Tower of 
London at least as early as 1323, consisting of a 
stock of bows, cross-bows, battering-rams and 
weapons generally. Apart from arms for the hired 
troops, a central store for siege weapons was a thing 
that a King would be wise to possess; and we 
definitely discern in the fifteenth century, arising out 
of this royal establishment, the genesis of one of the 
great departments of modern military administra- 
tion. Dating from the years 1414-18 an appointment 
is recorded of a "clerk of the Ordnance," who was 
probably a development of the earlier official with 
the attractive title of "attiliator balistarum" the 
gentleman who provided the catapults. Later, in 
1483, a Master was appointed for life, together with 
a Clerk and a Yeoman : so that here we have a board 
of the "Ordonnance," with quarters in the Tower of 
London. This board was charged on behalf of the 
King with the provision and issue of the kinds of 
equipment which would now be termed Artillery and 
Engineer stores; and the growing importance to the 
royal armies of an adequate supply of gunpowder 


weapons explains, as we may safely assume, the 
growth in the status of the provision office. From this 
time onwards this Board of Ordnance succeeded in 
preserving an unbroken existence for four eventful 
centuries, maintaining throughout a sturdy inde- 
pendence of the rest of a host of military offices until 
it was merged itself, in 1855, in a newly created 
central administration. 

Next, as the seventeenth century begins, we en- 
counter traces of other bodies whose names are 
suggestive of modern developments. The first of 
these is the "Council for War" which appears in the 
State Papers of 1620-1: a standing committee 
appointed by King James I "whereof the Earls of 
Oxford, Leicester and Essex are," we read, "the 
most eminent persons." It was probably a committee 
of the King's Privy Council. The second is the office 
of "Secretary-at-War" to which a gentleman called 
Edward Walker was appointed by King Charles I 
in the year 1642. Here again information is not 
explicit: we can only say that the Secretary-at-War 
may originally have been secretary to the "council 
for war." During the long struggle between Charles 
and Parliament each side possessed its council of 
war, and each council possessed its secretary. The 
duties, one gathers, were hardly comfortable, con- 
sisting in a very un-modern combination of sitting 
as clerk to an Army committee and posting urgently 
round the country as private secretary to the com- 
mander in the field. But later the post of Secretary- 
at-War assumes a very much greater interest. 

For the six years prior to the Restoration one 
William Clarke had acted as secretary to General 


Monk (or Monck), the all-powerful commander of 
the Commonwealth army. At the Restoration of 
1660 the latter, now the Duke of Albemarle, was 
appointed Captain-General and Commander-in-Chief 
of all that was left of the Parliamentary and Royalist 
forces; and in January of the following year his 
secretary, then Sir William Clarke, received a com- 
mission as "Secretary-at-War to all the forces raised 
or to be raised in England and Wales." At first this 
post was practically personal. The secretary accom- 
panied the Commander-in-Chief, and when the Duke 
an amphibian warrior commanded the navy 
against the Dutch Fleet, Clarke lost his life in a naval 
action in the year of the Great Fire of London. In 
1 670 the Duke himself died, and no Commander-in- 
Chief was appointed to succeed him, so that Clarke's 
successor as Secretary-at-War had some opportunity 
for increasing his duties, of which he clearly took full 
advantage. Admittedly his office was not a large one, 
for the office disbursements of Matthew Locke, "His 
Majesty's Secretary at Warre," from "ye 25th of 
March 1673 to ye loth of December following" 
amounted to ^14 195. and that in spite of a burst 
of activity such as to require seven "best penknives" 
and thirteen hundred "large Dutch quills," not to 
speak of four "duble bottles of inke" and six "rullers" 
at fourpence each. But the importance attached to 
the office by the King is shown by a Warrant* of 
1676 in which the following words occur: 

"And, considering that We continue to issue from 
Ourselves some kinds of warrants and military orders 
which did belong to the office of Our late General, 

* Note 2, page 340. 


, . . We, being desirous to distinguish such war- 
rants and orders from other affairs of Our Crown 
passing Our Signet and Sign Manual, have thought 
fit ... that all such warrants and orders as formerly 
issued from George, duke of Albemarle, the late 
General, deceased, in regard to that office, and which 
We continue to issue from Ourself, shall pass Our 
Sign Manual only and shall be countersigned by the 
Secretary to Our Forces as by Our Command. " 

The "Secretary to Our Forces" mentioned here is, 
of course, the Secretary-at-War. His duties appear 
to have included particularly the arrangement of 
"reliefs" between the various garrisons, the "re- 
moval of quarters" and the provision of convoys. 

Briefly, then, the Secretary-at-War, from being 
private secretary to the Commander-in-Chief, became 
an official clerk to the King, who prepared and 
countersigned the royal orders as to certain admini- 
strative needs of the forces. His office was not an 
emergency creation: it was intended to be a "stand- 
ing" secretariat: and here we find the first step in 
the laboured growth of a War Office. But the first step 
does not go very far; for the "standing army" of the 
Restoration, though a de facto standing army, was not 
a constitutional force. Its existence as a standing army 
had no consent from Parliament. The forces which 
had been raised by Parliament for the purposes of 
the Civil War were disbanded at once in 1660; ! ut 
under the Acts which disbanded them Charles II 
was enabled to keep certain troops, and from these 
he created an army of his own which, in spite of all 
the remonstrance of Parliament, he managed not 
merely to maintain but to increase. Built up from 


"the Lord General's Life-Guard of Horse" and 
Monk's old regiment raised at Coldstream, which 
afterwards became the Coldstream Guards, it was 
certainly only a small affair; for a powerful force in 
the hands of a despot, whether a King or a Common- 
wealth, was a thing that all parties had come to 
dread. A force comprising "Guards and Garrisons" 
was all that the King was intended to possess, and 
no more than this was legalised until the Revolution 
some thirty years later. 

But when as a result of that great crisis the Army 
became a constitutional force, the Secretary-at-War 
survived the upheaval. There was no great change 
in his status or functions: he remained, as before, 
responsible only to his master the King, but the King 
was the only Commander-in-Chief and the work 
was increased in scope and importance. He accom- 
panied the King on campaigns overseas and was busy 
transmitting the royal orders regarding the trans- 
portation of troops, the contracts for food, clothing 
and horses, and the distribution of subsidies to Allies.* 
At home he was responsible for the movement of 
troops and their quartering on the victualling 
houses; he drafted the "articles of War"; he pre- 
pared the forms of commissions for officers; he 
obtained rulings on points of precedence; he 
countersigned the warrants for pay, and he drew up 
the list of the forces required for signature by 
Ministers. The great change lay in the fact that his 
duties were concerned with forces of the Crown the 
existence of which had the sanction of Parliament, 
and with the use of funds which Parliament was 

* Note 3, page 340. 


voting for the specific purpose of maintaining those 
forces. In the Secretary-at-War of King Charles II 
a sturdy plant had made its appearance in the field 
of Army administration : with the coming of parlia- 
mentary control the ground was prepared for its 
further growth. The office was soon to be changed 
very greatly. We advance in triumph from mists to 

Chapter II 

THE subject of the Royal Prerogative is one which 
the layman approaches with caution: it is also a 
subject which cannot be avoided in tracing the 
growth of control by Parliament in the matter of 
the military forces of the Crown. For the Prerogative 
in this connection means certain powers in relation 
to the Army which belong to the traditional rights 
of the Sovereign. 

The people of England display fitfully a certain 
resentment of despotism. It blossoms to-day in 
sporadic indictments of the "New Despotism' ' a 
real or supposed invasion of liberty by the "bureau- 
cracy of Whitehall." The burden of the modern 
charge is the overriding of the people's rights as 
expressed in the law or the constitution. In earlier 
days the point in dispute was to get those rights 
expressed and secured by a formal recognition of 
the limits set to the traditional Prerogative rights of 
the Crown, From the earliest times the particular 
occasion for the outburst of resentment was often 
connected with military claims. 

The retrospect will be very brief. 

Before the Norman Conquest any freeman between 
the ages of 1 5 and 60 who was capable of bearing 
arms could be summoned by the King to the "host" 
or general levy of his county. The county force was 


liable to serve only within the kingdom and, except 
in case of invasion, only within its own county. The 
feudal levy was at first quite distinct. The military 
service of the knights and retainers of the feudal 
lords was limited by custom to forty days: it was 
this fact that led to the forces so raised being induced 
by high pay to continue to serve as mercenaries. In 
the case of both levies the practice arose of the Crown 
accepting a money payment in commutation of 
personal service; and hence, of course, arose two 
kinds of taxes, the one levied on the county at large 
and the other on the individual citizen. 

The arbitrary nature of the feudal tax was chal- 
lenged as early as Magna Carta; and when, about a 
century later, "Commissions of Array" (as the writs 
from the Crown had come to be called) demanded 
county forces for foreign service, resentment once 
more took definite shape and Acts were passed by 
Parliament, beginning in 1327, to set a limit to the 
Crown's claims. These statutes affirmed the principle 
that no man should be compelled to serve out of his 
shire "but when necessity requireth and the sudden 
coming of strange enemies into the realm"; nor 
should it be compulsory to provide soldiers except 
by grant in Parliament; and further, if men should 
volunteer to serve the King on foreign campaigns, 
payment should be made by the Crown for their 
services. As a consequence the great French wars 
which spread over the next hundred years were 
mainly fought by "mercenary" troops. 

Constitutional rights in the matter of service 
seem, however, to have been ignored or forgotten 
in the general confusion of the Wars of the Roses; 


and during the following Tudor reigns the claims 
of the Crown were extended by Acts which assumed 
all sorts of arbitrary powers to be part of the Royal 
Prerogative. Henry VIII increased the liability to 
provide horses and arms in proportion to property. 
He also ordered the practice of archery and for- 
bade indulgence in bowls and tennis. To venture 
a quiet game of quoits was to run the risk of 
penalties. The practice of "impressing" soldiers, 
which had been employed since the wars of the 
barons, was now an ordinary occurrence. Citizens 
were dragged compulsorily to arms with so fine a 
disregard for constitutional propriety that in the 
great days of Queen Elizabeth "impressment" had 
come to be regarded commonly as a natural, if un- 
comfortable, right of the Crown. "I have misused 
the King's press damnably," says Falstaff; and 
Shakespeare was voicing the experience of his time, 
But the days of these despotic powers were nearing 
their end with the coming of the Stuarts. A new era 
when military claims formed a prime occasion for 
popular resentment began in the reign of King 
Charles I. 

One point of dispute concerned the "trained 

During the reign of Queen Elizabeth the writs 
formerly known as "Commissions of Array" had 
assumed a quasi-permanent form under the title 
of "Commissions of Musters." Selected persons in 
each county were formed into bands, trained at the 
charge of the several parishes, and mustered annually 
by Lieutenants of counties. These commissions for 
mustering the trained bands (which now began to 


be called the "militia") were employed by Charles 
for his own ends. The King was always in need of 
money, and found here a most useful means of 
exacting money and arms from the counties. This 
formed one of the many issues on which a challenge 
was raised to the "martyr King's" overwhelming 
belief in his sovereign rights. Indeed, there was a 
new spirit abroad: the legality of the despotic powers 
so long invoked for the governing of the country 
began to be debated and called in question. Besides 
the exactions of the "Commissions of Musters" other 
military abuses formed grounds of attack. A second 
grievance related to the "pressing" of citizens to 
serve in the forces against their will. A third was the 
free use of "martial law" in time of peace for the 
summary punishment not only of soldiers but of 
"dissolute persons joining with them." Parliament 
held that the commissions which were issued to 
officers by the Crown to impose this special military 
law were plainly contrary to the law of the land. A 
fourth ground of complaint was the billeting of 
soldiers. In the Petition of Right of 1628 the Com- 
mons recited that 

"of late great companies of soldiers and mariners 
have been dispersed into divers counties of the 
Realm, and the inhabitants, against their wills, 
have been compelled to receive them into their 
houses, and there to suffer them to sojourn, against 
the laws and customs of this Realm, and to the 
great grievance and vexation of the people." 

The Commons prayed that the King would "be 
pleased to remove the said soldiers and mariners." 


They prayed also that the commissions of martial 
law might be revoked and annulled, and that "here- 
after no Commissions of like nature may issue forth" 
. . . "lest by colour of them any of your Majesty's 
subjects be destroyed or put to death contrary to 
the laws and franchise of the land." 

More significant still, in the light of events, was 
the later demand made of the King that the com- 
mand of the forces that is, of the militia should 
be in the hands of Parliament. It is not surprising 
that the King refused this: it was contrary to all 
tradition; but it illustrates a growing fear the 
awakened dread of military power when held in 
irresponsible hands. That fear became deeply in- 
grained in the people. The army which Parliament 
itself created for the purpose of abolishing royal 
despotism took matters into its own hands and 
became in its turn an engine of tyranny; and two 
hundred years hardly sufficed to wipe out the memory 
of that bitter experience. At the Restoration, as noted 
already, the army was disbanded at once. Men of 
all classes might well be afraid that a standing force 
would be used once more as an instrument of 
despotism. The militia was considered to be safe: 
indeed, steps were taken to make it so by vesting 
control in the Lieutenants of counties. The Crown's 
right of command was acknowledged, but the King 
was not trusted with anything more, except his 
"Guards and Garrisons." 

Soon again, when the Court party went too far 
in their efforts to keep a standing force, resentment 
blazed out dangerously. The Chancellor, Clarendon, 
was impeached for that he "hath designed a standing 


army to be raised." In 1672-3 two further remon- 
strances were made by the Commons; and a few 
years later the Lord Treasurer, Danby, was accused 
of high treason "for that he did/' among other things, 
"design the raising of an army upon a pretence of 
war against the French King, and to continue the 
same as a standing army within this kingdom. " But 
Charles II was tactful and wary, in contrast to his 
brother James. The latter showed his intentions too 
plainly. He planned to govern the country by means 
of the army, tried with his troops to overawe London 
and lost his throne in the foolish experiment. 

We thus come once more to the Revolution, the 
first Mutiny Act, and the Bill of Rights. 

The first Mutiny Act was passed hurriedly in 
April, 1689, to deal w ^h a mutiny which broke out 
at Ipswich among troops who declared that James 
was their King and that they would "live and die by 
him/' It was the forerunner of the complete code of 
discipline, now called the Army Act, which legalises 
the punishment of military offences by military law. 
Two particular points about it are interesting first, 
that it was passed for a period only (actually about 
seven months), and, second, that it declared in its 
preamble that the raising or keeping of a standing 
army within the kingdom in time of peace, unless 
it be with the consent of Parliament, was against the 

Similarly the Bill of Rights, which received the 
assent of William and Mary on i6th December, 
1689, set forth the offer and acceptance of the Crown 
on the basis of certain constitutional principles, of 
which one was that the raising or keeping of a stand- 


ing army within the kingdom in time of peace, unless 
it be with the consent of Parliament, is against the 
law. Meanwhile the Commons on 5th April had 
resolved to agree with its Committee of Supply 
that the sum of 200,000 "is necessary to be 
allowed for the annual charge of guards and 
garrisons by land in time of peace/' Further, for 
1692 the Committee voted the number of men that 
should form the "establishment" of the forces at 

Thus was established a new era. From this time 
forward no army could exist unless Parliament had 
voted supplies for its cost; and the fact was explicitly 
recognised by the Crown that its discipline would 
have no legal basis unless Parliament passed a special 
Act for that purpose. This remains the position to- 
day. The maximum numbers allowed to be kept up, 
the discipline necessary for the government of that 
army, and the expenses involved in keeping it must 
always be sanctioned expressly by Parliament, and 
are sanctioned only for twelve months at a time. 
To that extent the Army is a statutory force. Its 
numbers, its cost, and the discipline applied to it 
are limited and controlled by the votes of Parlia- 
ment; and although, apart from these limitations, 
the "government, command and disposition" of the 
army fall within the Royal Prerogative, the annual 
renewal of Parliament's consent is necessary for its 

Meanwhile, as regards the Prerogative, Parliament 
had proceeded as follows. At the restoration of 
Charles II, in an Act of 1661 (13 Car, II. cap. 6), 
Parliament had used the following words: 


"Forasmuch as within all His Majesty's realms 
and dominions the sole supreme government, 
command and disposition of the militia and of all 
forces by sea and land, and of all forts and places 
of strength, is, and by the law of England ever 
was, the undoubted right of His Majesty . . ." 

But the Parliament of the Revolution was more 
cautious. It did not mention the Prerogative powers, 
but it took certain definite steps in the matter. In 
one direction it extended and strengthened the 
powers of the Crown, since by the first Mutiny Act 
it legalised "Martial Law" as the means of enforcing 
the discipline of the Army. In restricting carefully 
both the scope and the duration of this new law so 
that it required periodic revision and re-enactment, 
and in other directions already noted, it rehearsed 
what the Crown could not do, and secured to itself 
control of the means of keeping a standing army in 
being. But all the old Prerogatives remained, except 
in so far as by these methods Parliament had imposed 
express limitations. 

Time has not changed this age-old doctrine of 
the special relations of the King to the Army. Just as 
the work of Army administration is conditioned by 
the theory of Parliament's control, so from the doc- 
trine of Crown Prerogative flow many elements in 
War Office practice. The granting or withholding of a 
soldier's pay lies with the King. Its issue is governed 
by a "Royal Warrant for the Pay, Appointment, 
Promotion and Non-Effective Pay of the Army." 
The Army Council administer the Warrant, but 
any amendment must go to the King. The regulations 


for the Army are the King's Regulations, and simi- 
larly require the royal approval. The commissions of 
officers are given by the King and bear His Majesty's 
signature on them. The Crown, equipped with the 
Army Act the code developed from the Mutiny 
Acts is the source of the Army's discipline : courts- 
martial can only be convened by the King or by 
officers holding special powers directly conferred by 
the King for that purpose; and the findings and 
sentences of certain courts-martial are reserved for 
His Majesty's personal approval. An officer can 
appeal, if he thinks himself wronged, from the 
Army Council to the King himself. 

What time has changed are the methods by which 
certain Prerogative powers are exercised. One effect 
of reforms of Army government has been to transfer 
the exercise of those powers from representatives of 
the Crown not responsible to Parliament to ministers 
who are responsible to Parliament, and so to secure 
parliamentary approval for the way in which those 

powers are used. 

* * # -fr- 
lii this connection a point has been raised which 
may be of interest to some readers. Under the Bill of 
Rights, as stated above, the keeping of a standing 
army requires the prior consent of Parliament, 
which has to be renewed each year; but if a reader 
should enquire by what instrument Parliament pro- 
ceeds to renew that consent, the question would not 
be simple to answer. The new year with which 
Parliament deals begins on April ist as regards 
money and on April 3Oth as regards the Army Act, 
and if it be argued that the consent required is the 


consent of both the Houses of Parliament given 
before the beginning of the year, the only instrument 
which fulfils these conditions is the Army and Air 
Force Annual Act. But does that Act legalise the 
existence of the Army? It is the Act which brings 
into force for the ensuing year the complete code 
of military law well known as the Army Act. It is 
true that it contains a preamble which repeats the 
provision of the Bill of Rights concerning the keeping 
of a standing Army, and alludes to the numbers 
required for the Army; but a critic could argue that 
a mere preamble, not being one of the sections of 
the Act, cannot make those numbers law. The 
subject is somewhat painfully technical and further 
details are reserved for a note.* It is also purely 
academic, and may well be left to the mercy of jurists, 
for "consent," if not given by any one instrument, 
is certainly given by the series of instruments by 
which numbers and money are voted for the Army 
and its discipline is legalised. 

The main point is clear enough that Parlia- 
ment's control of the size of the Army, of its dis- 
cipline, and of its very existence is a basic principle 
of the Constitution. Nor are the Resolutions and 
Acts -which deal with numbers, money and disci- 
pline the only weapons which Parliament possesses. 
Since the days of the Revolution its powers of 
control have been greatly elaborated in ways which 
future chapters will show. 

* * * * 

Another development of the seventeenth century 
provides a lighter theme. 

* Note 4, page 340. 


The second half of that century saw the begin- 
ning of many names that are still familiar, or even 
famous, in modern London. Immediately after the 
Restoration fashion reached out to Piccadilly. The 
"drie ditche banks about Pickadilla" of Gerarde's 
Herbal (1633) gave place to a crop of streets and 
mansions. At the north end of St. James's Street 
the King's Lord Chancellor built a house which 
on Clarendon's death was called "Albemarle House" 
for the purchaser was Monk's son. Its remains 
were bought it was soon pulled down by one 
Sir Thomas Bond of Peckham, and new streets 
came into being, Bond Street and Albemarle 
Street. Nearby a mansion, whose later name was 
"Devonshire House," was built for the Lord 
Berkeley of Stratton whose wife made the streets 
which bear those names. Further east rose Bur- 
lington House. The church of St. James in Picca- 
dilly designed by Wren (except its steeple the 
substitute can still be seen) was built on the grounds 
of Harry Jermyn, who presented the site to Charles 
II and gave his name to Jermyn Street. But among 
the many familiar titles first heard in this era of new 
creation, our particular theme is the name "The 
Horse Guards." 

The ground now known as "The Horse Guards 
Parade" was part of a space then called the Tiltyard. 
In Tudor times it was a real tilt-yard, where the 
Court could step from the Palace of Whitehall to 
applaud the exploits of nobles and gentry in various 
contests of skill-at-arms. Long years before the 
Restoration all such jousting had ceased to be held; 
and here was a space where the King's guard could 


be housed conveniently near to the Palace. Quarters 
were required for the mounted troops which 
Charles II had been allowed to keep, and barracks 
and stables were built in the Tiltyard, henceforth to 
be known as "The Horse Guards, Whitehall/' It 
was here, before the end of the century, that the 
Secretary-at-War had his modest office. 

"The Horse Guards, Whitehall" of those days 
was not, of course, the present building. After a 
hundred years of use the old buildings were pulled 
down and their place was taken by William Kent's 
unpretentious but pleasing edifice. For long "The 
Horse Guards'* was the War Office, or at least was 
so regarded by all. At a later stage the name was 
used to refer to the office of the Commander-in-Chief 
as opposed to the civil control of the Army. The 
Horse Guards building is now the headquarters of 
the Eastern Command, and also of the London 
District; but its greater claims to modern renown 
reside in the splendour of its mounted sentries and 
the ceremony known as "Trooping the Colour." 

Chapter III 

CRIMEA (1689 TO 1854) 

A CERTAIN letter received at the present-day War 
Office was addressed as follows: 

"The Secretary, 

or any of the Admirals, 
Ware Office, Pall Mall" 

It would seem that even under modern conditions 
the writer was a prey to uneasy doubts as to which 
particular group of His Majesty's officers would 
deal with a matter concerning soldiers. In the year 
1734, or again in the year 1834, such doubts would 
have been amply justified, for the multiplication of 
Army authorities was certainly the most striking 
feature of the machinery for administering the 
business of the forces during the century and a half 
which followed the Revolution. 

Thus, in the year 1815, at the close of the 
Napoleonic wars, there were no less than thirteen 
distinct offices concerned with some aspect of Army 
administration, not to mention a special department 
of the Treasury or the functions of the Home 
Office touching the Militia. Even in March, 1854, 
at the outbreak of the Crimean War, there still 
remained six important authorities each of which 

FROM THE REVOLUTION (1689-1854) 33 

claimed independent powers. Two sturdy growths 
in this generous crop were the Board of Ordnance 
and the Secretary-at-War, whose first appearance 
has been mentioned already. Of the rest some sprang 
up only to die; while two were destined, as the story 
will show, to absorb between them the whole of the 
field. * 

The span of a hundred and sixty-five years which 
separates the Revolution from the Crimean War was 
a period of great names. The figures of Maryborough, 
Walpole and Pitt, Clive and Wolfe and Wellington, 
are seen in a pageant of stirring events. William Ill's 
successful campaigns, Maryborough's famous vic- 
tories, the suppression of the Jacobite risings at 
home, the building up of the Indian Empire, the 
wresting of Canada from French domination, Wel- 
lington's achievements in the Peninsular War, the 
final defeat of Napoleon's power these are but some 
of the scenes that we witness. Military successes fill 
the story of Britain's rise to a great supremacy. We 
might expect, therefore, to find large advances in the 
administration of Army affairs. We might hope to 
find vastly improved conditions, not only planned for 
the sake of efficiency but designed also by a grateful 
nation for the betterment of the soldier's lot. But the 
efficiency which produced the long tale of successes 
was efficiency of command and courage : it was not 
the result of alert preparation. The long list of de- 
partments with Army interests was not the product 
of interest in the Army. The plain truth is that 
between the wars the needs of the Army were openly 
and deliberately neglected. 

A prime cause of this state of affairs lay plainly 


in the old fear. The country, not without reason 
perhaps, remained in dread of a standing Army. If 
trouble seemed imminent Parliament would vote 
an increase of numbers: when the trouble was over 
Parliament was prompt to reduce them again. No 
sooner had peace been signed with France at the 
close of William I IPs campaigns than a flood of 
pamphlets demanded reductions. We note that the 
author of Robinson Crusoe joined in the fray with the 
opposite view in an "Argument showing that a 
Standing Army, with consent of Parliament, is not 
Inconsistent with a Free Government." But the 
Army was reduced in spite of Defoe, and had to be 
increased again three years later on the outbreak of 
the War of the Spanish Succession. At the Treaty of 
Utrecht which ended that war, the numbers were 
promptly reduced to a minimum. Dean Swift wrote 
that a standing Army was one of the "Public 
Absurdities. " During Walpole's "reign of peace" 
the old cry was raised constantly. The Treaty of 1 748 
which closed the War of the Austrian Succession, 
the Peace of 1 763 which terminated the Seven Years' 
War, and the Treaty of 1783 which ended the 
struggle with the American colonies, were followed 
in turn by hasty reductions. An outcry against the 
building of barracks was a frequent symptom of the 
general temper. The fortifying of ports was opposed 
on the ground of danger to liberty. In 1814, when 
Napoleon abdicated, our armies were reduced with 
premature speed, and when peace came after Waterloo 
the same old arguments were heard. When the for- 
mation of a club for officers was mooted in the year 
1816, the Prime Minister regarded the measure as 

FROM THE REVOLUTION (1689-1854) 35 

"most ill-advised": he feared the effects of such an 
establishment on u the general feelings of English- 
men respecting military interference." 

Throughout this era Parliament, garbed in a 
well-worn Liberty dress, appears as the villain of the 
Army piece. Dislike of the Army was openly fostered. 
One reason, of course, was that Whig policy was 
definitely commercial and therefore pacific. Another 
was the fact that in the eighteenth century the patron- 
age of the Army was used freely as a pawn in the 
political game. Promotions were given for political 
support, and many instances can be quoted where 
officers were actually deprived of commissions on 
account of their political "colour." 

It is clear that the existence of the Army in peace 
and its power for interference in civil affairs were 
regarded askance by Parliament. On each and every 
recurrence of peace Army affairs were thrust into 
the background, and the old cry was raised once 
more, reinforced by a real and growing need for 
the pursuit of economy in public expenditure. 
There is a modern ring about some of the argu- 
ments: Great Britain does not require an Army; 
Great Britain's interest is trade; no need to be 
entangled in military commitments. The armies 
took the field ill equipped and ill trained. When 
France, in the throes of her great revolution, 
declared war on England in 1793, the British Army 
was, to say the least, short of ammunition, lacking 
in medicines and medical appliances, and most 
inadequately furnished with transport. A shocking 
waste of blood and treasure was involved in the 
improvisation of forces to meet each crisis as it arose, 


but the waste did not carry sufficient weight with 
those who feared a large permanent force to result 
in really effective reforms. Critics may point to a 
lack of vision: we are here concerned only with the 
fact of neglect and the striking dispersal of powers 
and duties which produced a quite unworkable 
system, or lack of system, of administration. 

We have mentioned the crop of separate authorities 
all of which dealt with military affairs. At the begin- 
ning of the period, in 1703, the list included, besides 
the Secretary-at-War, at least the following depart- 
ments: The Board of Ordnance provided stores; the 
Commissariat provided provisions and fuel; two 
Paymasters-General disbursed pay; an Apothecary 
provided drugs; and a little later there was a Board 
of General Officers whose approval was required 
for clothing contracts. There was also a Commissary- 
General of Musters; and two Controllers of Army 
Accounts to watch expenditure on behalf of the 
Treasury. Finally, and above all these, a responsibility 
for Army affairs lay upon one of the Secretaries of 
State. In the course of the era under review this list 
grew longer and then was reduced. Afterwards, as 
a result of the extensive reforms which followed on 
the Crimean crisis, two great departments only 
survived. Our chief concern is with the survivors; 
but the story of the earlier stages is pertinent to the 
main subject, for the organisation of the modern 
War Office can only be seen in true perspective in 
the light of the conditions that hindered its coming. 
It is a story, to use an official meiosis, not wholly 
devoid of confusing features, and the first confusion 
to be cleared up is that between the Secretary-at-War 

FROM THE REVOLUTION (1689-1854) 37 

and the Secretary of State who was responsible for 
the conduct of war as one of his ministerial functions. 
The high office of "Secretary of State 7 * makes its 
first appearance in English history in the reign of 
King Henry VIII. It developed from the post of 
"Secretarius" or confidential clerk to the Plantagenet 
Kings.* This secretary, the Keeper of the King's 
Great Seal, became a high office at an early date: 
next, a private seal was invented and the Keeper of 
the Privy Seal grew into an important officer of 
State: and finally, a third seal, or "signet," came to 
be employed for the King's private use, and the 
post of Secretarius, as keeper of the signet, became 
in its turn a definite office. In the fifteenth century 
the holder of this post was known officially as "the 
King's Secretary"; but it was left to Henry VIIFs 
ministers to raise the appointment to the great 
importance which attaches to the title of "Secretary 
of State." In James Fs reign the practice began of 
dividing the office between two Secretaries; and in 
1640 foreign business was formally separated into 
two spheres, each Secretary of State taking charge of 
relations with a distinct group of the powers of 
Europe, and domestic affairs falling to one of them. 
William III found it very annoying that the division 
of spheres of his Secretaries of State was made on 
such a basis so inconvenient: thus a war against 
France might concern one minister while respon- 
sibility for the forces in England might rest (as part 
of domestic affairs) on the shoulders of the other 
Secretary of State, William insisted on his Secretary- 
at-War accompanying him when he went on cam- 

* Note 5, page 341. 


paigns, and treated him as a Secretary of State, to 
the chagrin of his ministers proper. 

Thus at the dawn of the eighteenth century there 
did not exist a Secretary of State with military affairs 
as his sole province, and this led to a change of 
status and an increase of power for the Secretary-at- 

Under Queen Anne and the first Georges the 
King's ministers were busily engaged in gathering 
into their own hands as many as possible of the 
powers of government, and here, in the Secretary-at- 
War, was an office through which were exercised 
the Royal Prerogatives of the command, government 
and disposition of the Army. Accordingly in 1 704 
the office is made a political post a stepping-stone 
for rising politicians. The Secretary-at-War, from 
being clerk to the King as Commander-in-Chief, 
becomes an instrument of political power. The post 
possessed peculiar facilities for the exercise of 
political patronage, and the tiny office of the Secre- 
tary-at-War (which in 1720 possessed 9 clerks) was 
allowed to control, as adviser to the Crown, all 
matters bearing on Army finance, the relations of the 
Army to the civil community, and indeed its govern- 
ment generally. "Our armies here/' said the Duke of 
Argyll in 1718, "know no other power but that of 
the Secretary-at-War, who directs all their motions 
and fills up all vacancies without opposition and 
without appeal/' There was even a "Secretary-at- 
War's leave" which was granted to officers without 
reference to any military authority whatever. 

This powerful civilian official spoke for military 
affairs in the Commons, but was not responsible to 

FROM THE REVOLUTION (1689-1854) 39 

Parliament. He was bound, said Pulteney who held 
the office in 1717, to carry out the orders of the 
Crown, but was not bound to account to Parliament. 
The holder of the post in 1779 informed the House 
that he could not be expected, not being a minister, 
u to have a competent knowledge of the destination 
of the army, and how the war was to be carried on/' 
His position was convenient to the King. The Secre- 
taries of State were responsible to Parliament, and 
the Crown, as Sir William Anson* points out, was 
not anxious to see the military Prerogatives brought 
under the supervision of Parliament, Besides, the 
Secretaries of State in whose provinces "war" fell 
were full of their wider responsibilities, and as far 
as Army administration was concerned were con- 
tent to remain very much in the background, while 
the Secretary-at-War did the necessary work and 
handled the patronage on behalf of the Crown. 
Meanwhile in the eyes of Parliament also the position 
possibly had certain advantages; for the House of 
Commons may well have felt that a Secretary-at-War 
who was accountable to Parliament would lend colour 
to the horrid idea of a standing Army as a permanent 
evil. So the Secretary-at-War waxed strong in the 

But as military expenditure grew apace, Parlia- 
ment's desire to control it increased; and by Burke's 
Act for Economical Reform (1782-3) changes were 
made which vitally affected the position and the 
functions of the Secretary-at-War. The payment of 
the troops and the expenditure on recruiting, which 
had hitherto remained in the hands of the regiments, 

* Note 6, page 341. 


was placed in the charge of the Secretary-at-War, 
and that official was made responsible to Parliament, 
and specifically responsible for the spending of 
Supply. He was there to control the expenditure of 
the Army in the interests of the public purse, not 
merely to announce what numbers were required. 
He was there to see that the money which Parliament 
had voted was used only for the purposes which 
Parliament intended, not merely to see that the agents 
of the Crown did not encroach too far on the civil law. 
He became a minister for Army affairs, and he stood 
and acted still more than before as a de facto Secretary 
of State. 

Then, with the coming of the French revolution 
and the declaration of war between England and 
France, another important change was made. In the 
year 1793 the office of Commander-in-Chief was 

Since the death of Albemarle in 1670 no Com- 
mander-in-Chief had been appointed except for the 
duration of temporary emergencies. The King had 
retained the command himself. The establishment 
of the permanent post meant that the King gave up 
personal command, and in matters relating to the 
internal discipline and regulation of the Army the 
royal pleasure would now be communicated by the 
holder of the office of Commander-in-Chief, and 
not, as before, by the Secretary-at-War. (The actual 
title of the appointment varied "Field-Marshal on 
the Staff," for instance but the position was that 
of Commander-in-Chief.) A further change in the 
following year, the appointment of a Secretary of 
State for War, is important as a historical fact rather 

FROM THE REVOLUTION (1689-1854) 41 

than for any results in practice. From the constitu- 
tional aspect it marks a stage; because now for the 
first time, as Anson points out, the general policy 
of the government of the Army was placed in the 
hands of a definite person who not only was respon- 
sible to Parliament but also held office of the highest 
rank. He was charged with the control of military 
policy, the strength of the forces to be maintained, 
and the general conduct of operations; while the 
Secretary-at-War remained independent, and shared 
with the office of Commander-in-Chief the duty of 
providing the forces required. 

Unfortunately, however, in the making of this 
change, the relative powers of the three appoint- 
ments were nowhere defined with any precision, 
and the powers of the Secretary of State for War 
were left as a vague and partial control, with the 
result that the ground was now left open for a long 
and paralysing struggle between the Commander- 
in-Chief and the Secretary-at-War, 

The Commander-in-Chief was quick to claim that 
the entire control of military administration rested 
with himself as the King's representative. The 
Secretary-at-War, as Parliament's man, responsible 
for Army finance and the civil aspect of Army 
government, claimed the duty of issuing orders and 
regulations which the Commander-in-Chief was 
bound to obey. The Duke of York, famous in song 
for marching men up to the top of the hill and 
forthwith marching them down again, was Com- 
mander-in-Chief during this period (1795-1809) and 
entrenched himself in a strong position. He created 
a headquarters staff, and insisted on the observance 


by all officers of proper channels of communication. 
Gone were the days when a place-hunting officer 
could bring pressure to bear on the Secretary-at-War 
through influential friends in the House. All pro- 
motions and all questions of discipline were now in 
the hands of the Commander-in-Chief. He claimed 
control of finance as well, but naturally without 
success. This royal officer is ranked by Fortescue as 
a fine type of Commander-in-Chief. 

In 1 8 i r the quarrel waxed strong, though at this 
date the Duke himself had resigned as a result of a 
notorious and unhappy scandal in the matter of Mary 
Ann Clarke, a lady who surpassed her previous 
efforts in the matter of bribery and corruption by 
obtaining for her own footman a commission as a 
lieutenant-colonel. The relative position of the two 
offices gave rise to a stiff and prolonged discussion, 
and Palmerston, then the Secretary-at-War, penned 
an exhaustive memorandum on the subject which the 
curious may read in Clode.* It was settled tempor- 
arily in May 1812, by a warrant signed by the 
Prince Regent, of which a copy was given to each 
of the disputants. The financial control of "the War 
Office' * was upheld, but the Secretary-at-War re- 
ceived instructions that he must not issue any new 
order until it had been shown to the Commander-in- 
Chief: if the latter objected, the matter was to be 
settled by one or all of three officials the First Lord 
of the Treasury, the Chancellor of the Exchequer or 
"the Secretary of State for the Colonies/' The last- 
named, be it noted, is the same person as the Secre- 
tary of State for War, whose concern with the details 

* Note 7, page 341. 

FROM THE REVOLUTION (1689-1854) 43 

of Army management had receded still further into 
the background when, in 1801, he was given the 
charge of the Colonies as well. So, for the time, the 
matter rested. 

Meanwhile the tide of war dragged on. British 
troops fought in the West Indies, in India, Egypt, 
the Cap v e and America as well as on the continent of 
Europe; Wellington won renown in the Peninsula; 
Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo ; and at the end 
of these heroic efforts the offices concerned with 
Army affairs had attained the grand total of fifteen. 
These offices were independent, and approached 
each other by formal letter. "The gentlemen of the 
War Department/' in the biting phrase of a modern 
historian, "led an administrative life of exquisite 

The system was hopelessly inefficient; but the 
fact that nothing was done to remedy it when the 
French peril was finally averted is hardly a matter 
to cause surprise. The country was exhausted and 
sick of war; the state of trade was deplorable; the 
condition of agriculture was grave; statesmen were 
absorbed in more urgent affairs than thinking of 
hypothetical wars that were surely a very long 
distance ahead. But the disconnection of Army offices 
did eventually come very much to the fore. In 1833 
a Commission was appointed to consider the possi- 
bility of consolidation, and four years later its pro- 
posals were endorsed by a second Commission under 
LordHowick which included fivemembers of Cabinet 

These Commissioners were fully alive to the un- 
fortunate results of "absence of connection/' With 


a system of authorities "mutually independent and 
only connected together by their common subordin- 
ation to the supreme authority of the Government" 
the Commissioners said that they were much de- 
ceived if the practical results were not to be traced 
in "conflicts of opinion, diversities of system, and 
delays exceedingly injurious to the public service"; 
while they ventured to think that there had been 
"some unnecessary expense of establishment, and a 
good deal of multiplication of correspondence, and 
of needless formalities in the transaction of business." 
They deplored the dualism inherent in the positions 
of the Secretary-at-War and the Commander-in- 
Chief, and recommended that the former should be 
a Cabinet Minister responsible to Parliament for the 
efficiency of the Army. He, they proposed, should 
be the Minister "by whom the advice of the Cabinet 
as to the amount of the military establishments should 
be laid before the King, and the person to com- 
municate on all points with the Commander-in-Chief 
on behalf of the Administration." They further ex- 
plained that the Secretary of State was necessarily 
far too busy with the Colonies to give due attention 
to the efficiency and economy of the system of 
conducting military affairs, and that since it was the 
established practice to exclude the Commander-in- 
Chief officially from the Cabinet, the proper person 
to whom "should be committed the important duty 
of watching over the whole military administration 
of the country" appeared to them to be the. Secre- 

This bold report then went on to propose that 
the Secretary-at-War in his new status should be 

FROM THE REVOLUTION (1689-1854) 45 

given control over the provision of stores at present 
carried out by the Board of Ordnance, and likewise 
over the furnishing of supplies at present managed 
by the Commissariat. 

Despite the status of the Commissioners, however, 
these recommendations were not carried out. Sir 
Henry^ Hardinge, who later became Commander- 
in-Chief, and the Duke of Wellington who also gave 
evidence, were both anxious to protect the Army 
from what they considered to be a dangerous move. 
The Secretary-at-War was supreme in finance, but 
they feared the encroachment on the Royal Pre- 
rogative if the powers of the Commander-in-Chief 
were diminished in respect of command and disci- 
pline. It was unsound, in their view, that patronage 
and discipline, recently delivered from political 
influence, should pass to the control of a Cabinet 
Minister with the power of the House of Commons 
behind him. The proposals for the consolidation of 
offices were opposed by the Duke on similar grounds. 
The Secretary-at-War would become too powerful: 
the Commander-in-Chief would be a mere instru- 
ment helpless in the hands of this "new Leviathan." 
In fine, these measures, the Duke concluded, would 
"transfer the effective command of the Army from 
the King to the House of Commons," and he added 
in a letter addressed to Lord Melbourne: "It has 
hitherto been understood that, the Army once voted, 
Parliament ought not to interfere with its arrange- 

So the dualism remained unsolved, and the dis- 
connection of departments continued. There seemed 
to be no prospect of progress until a new crisis should 


compel a change. On the question of control the 
young Queen Victoria was imbued with the fear of 
civil interference: in the general question of the 
efficiency of the Army the Prince Consort was much 
interested: Wellington, now Commander-in-Chief, 
expressed grave concern about the defence of the 
country: while Parliament was busy with other 
affairs, and the Radical Party poured scorn on the 
Duke. As a matter of fact the whole military system 
was in a truly parlous condition. Ever since the 
Napoleonic wars the Army had been cut down to 
the lowest point compatible with keeping the gar- 
risons abroad some thirty thousand men in India 
and between thirty and forty thousand in the 
colonies; the Militia had been disembodied instantly, 
and no reserves existed at all. 

However, in 1852 the disturbed state of foreign 
affairs led to at least one step being taken. A Bill was 
passed to re-establish the Militia, and a large part of 
the control of that force which previously had been 
the charge of the Home Secretary was transferred to 
the Secretary-at-War. 

In September of that year Wellington died, and 
Lord Hardinge, the new Commander-in-Chief, 
found a keen and able Secretary-at-War in the 
person of Mr. Sidney Herbert. Moreover the 
Queen was pressing her ministers to consider the 
position of the national defences, and there was 
just time before the storm broke for certain reforms 
to be taken in hand. The field guns in the possession 
of the British Army had been found to number 
less than seventy, and those were of the kind used 
at Waterloo. Hardinge had taken this matter up. 

FROM THE REVOLUTION (1689-1854) 47 

and now, with Herbert's energetic assistance, a 
camp was established at Chobham Common where 
training was given to Artillery drivers. At the same 
time the old smooth-bore musket popularly known 
as "Brown Bess" was in process of being super- 
seded not a premature step if the tales be true, 
for its accuracy was such that a critic undertook 
to sit in a chair (so the story goes) and be fired at 
for the whole day at a distance of a hundred yards, 
provided that the musket was aimed at him care- 
fully. The French had adopted the Minie rifle, and 
experiments at Enfield were now pushed on for 
re-arming the infantry with a rifled musket. We 
are told that the death of Wellington had removed 
an obstacle in the way of reforms, but the fact 
should be added that the great Duke, when a very 
old man, had approved the idea of the new rifle 
a fact which is notable in the light of his view that 
it was absurd to suppose that armies could fight at so 
great a distance as 500 yards. 

Unfortunately the departmental machine had not 
received a like attention. The general lines of Army 
administration were the same as existed at the time 
of Waterloo when on March 28th, 1854, the 
country was faced with the Crimean War. 

Chapter IV 
THE TIDE OF REFORM (1854x0 1904) 

THE appointment of committees is an art in itself, 
and at times requires a delicate touch. On a famous 
occasion in the present century a letter was drafted 
to "My dear " inviting that very distin- 
guished peer to take the chair of a War Office com- 
mittee which was about to be set up by the Secretary 
of State. The letter, a personal invitation, stressed his 
lordship's peculiar fitness to assist the Department 
in this way; but a private (and non-official) secretary 
despatched the invitation to an eminent divine who 
bore the same name as the eminent peer. The 
eminent divine accepted with pleasure, and it seemed 
for the moment that the situation could only be 
decently met by the setting up of two committees to 
investigate the same subject. However, the delicate 
touch prevailed, and the chair was left clear for the 
eminent peer. 

The student of post-Crimean days encounters a 
tide of committees so strong that it carries right up 
to the high-water mark of the Esher Committee of 
1904. It is difficult to mention an important aspect 
of Army administration which was not thus formally 
and hopefully reviewed in those fifty years of per- 
sistent sitting. The list of committees and Royal 
Commissions reaches the formidable total of 567. 
Addressing the Lords in 1867 the Earl of Longford 

THE TIDE OF REFORM (1854-1904) 49 

drew attention to the fact that 17 Royal Com- 
missions and 1 8 Select Committees, besides 19 
committees of officers within the War Office and 
35 committees of military officers, had considered 
points of military policy in the twelve years that had 
just passed. We shall here touch only on the main 
changes which were actually made in the half 

The Crimean campaign shed a glaring light on 
the many defects of the existing system. Their effects 
were seen at the seat of war in the condition of the 
troops, the lack of trained staff, the shortage of 
reserves, and distressing deficiencies in transport 
arrangements, supplies and medicines. Similarly at 
home, with so many authorities who were almost 
independent, each claiming a province of ill-defined 
limits, the conduct of any important affair was in- 
evitably attended with delay and confusion. The 
war showed up the fatal results of long disputes on 
trifling points, of competition in the same market, 
and the absence of any one central authority having 
power to impose a final decision. Such a machine 
was doomed to failure. Sidney Herbert, whose sup- 
port of Miss Florence Nightingale should alone 
entitle his name to respect, summed up the results 
in a few words. "We had," he said, "to create an 
army and to use it at the same time." 

The position deserves to be recapitulated. The 
Secretary of State for War and the Colonies was 
responsible for the size of the force to be maintained, 
and for controlling operations in time of war. At 
this time his function as Minister for War had been 
so far forgotten in the public mind that he was 


spoken of always as the Secretary for the Colonies. 
The Commander-in-Chief was responsible for the 
discipline of the Cavalry and the Infantry, and, as 
representative of the Sovereign, he held the com- 
mand of the Army at home. He had no control over 
the supply of their arms or of any stores or forti- 
fications, nor could he order the movement of troops 
without the previous sanction of the Secretary-at- 
War. Over troops abroad he possessed no control. 
The Secretary-at-War was responsible to Parliament 
for everything relating to the finance of the Army 
and the contact of the Army with the civil population. 
With respect to the Cavalry, the Infantry and the 
Staff he fixed the rates of pay and allowances, and 
dealt with all questions of half-pay and pensions. He 
in turn, like the Commander-in-Chief, had no con- 
trol over the Artillery and the Engineers, nor any 
concern with the provision of material. The Board 
of Ordnance provided all arms and stores except the 
clothing of the Cavalry and the Infantry, and was 
responsible also for barracks and fortifications. Its 
head, the Master-General of the Ordnance, had 
charge of the discipline and the pay and allowances 
of the Royal Artillery and the Royal Engineers. 
Provisions were the business of an off-shoot of the 
Treasury known as the Commissariat Department. 
For general military questions relating to Great 
Britain the Home Secretary was still responsible. 
The inspection of clothing for the Cavalry and the 
Infantry was the function of a Board of General 
Officers. Finally, the provision of medical stores 
remained in the hands of a Medical Department 
responsible financially to the Secretary-at-War and 

THE TIDE OF REFORM (1854-1904) 51 

in matters of discipline to the Commander-in- 

Then came the shock of the Crimean War, and 
the changes made were swift and sweeping. In June, 
1854, three months after the outbreak of hostilities, 
a Secretary of State for War was appointed, thus 
breaking up, the unwieldy arrangement dating from 
1 80 1 under which the business of War and the 
Colonies had fallen to the same Secretary of State. 
In December the Commissariat office was transferred 
from the Treasury to the War Department. In 
February, 1855, Lord Panmure was appointed 
Seer etary-at- War as well as Secretary of State for 
War, thus amalgamating the two offices. In March 
the general control of the Militia was removed at 
last from the care of the Home Office. Next followed 
the abolition of the Board of Ordnance, that ancient 
body whose independence had lasted some four 
hundred years. Its military functions of administra- 
tion were now transferred to the Commander-in- 
Chief and its civil duties to the Secretary of State. 
The Board of General Officers for the inspection of 
clothing, and the Army and Ordnance Medical 
Department, soon found themselves absorbed in turn ; 
and lastly, in 1856, to facilitate the audit of military 
expenditure, it was decided that the main part of that 
duty should be carried out in the War Department 
under auditors responsible to the Secretary of State. 

In consequence of these amalgamations the clerical 
staffs of the various branches were merged in a 
single list for promotion in the new consolidated 
War Department; and this, in 1857, assumes the 
title of "the War Office" a name which indeed had 


been used before, but in reference principally to 
the Secretary-at-War. Finally, in 1858, the year 
which saw the end of the Indian Mutiny, the new 
department was housed in Pall Mall. It discharged 
all the civil administrative functions, and consisted 
of thirteen branches as follows: Central, Fortifica- 
tions, Stores and Clothing, Contracts, Commissariat, 
Solicitor's, Ordnance Services, Artillery, Accounts, 
Audit, Chaplain-General's, Medical, and Purveyors. 
The military functions of command and discipline 
remained in the hands of the Commander-in-Chief, 
and included now the command and discipline of the 
Artillery and the Engineers, hitherto the concern of 
the Board of Ordnance. Thus only one Army depart- 
ment was left which possessed a control distinct from 
the sphere of the civil department in Pall Mall. The 
Horse Guards possessed the military control; but 
the Secretary of State was responsible to Parliament 
for the way in which that control was exercised. The 
historic office of Secretary-at-War was formally 
abolished by Act of Parliament in May, 1863. 

At first sight it is not obvious why the new 
arrangements should have failed to succeed. The 
"absence of connection" seemed to have vanished. 
The excuse for the "old-fashioned departmentalism" 
the phrase is Lord Panmure's appeared to be 
gone. Similarly, from the constitutional aspect, there 
was now a Cabinet Minister with the War Depart- 
ment as his sole concern, and the point seemed to be 
fully recognised that in all matters relating to the 
Army the Secretary of State was the supreme 
authority. But theory is one thing and practice 
another, and the War Office of 1857 stood on the 

THE TIDE OF REFORM (1854-1904) 53 

brink of a weary struggle between military and 
ministerial control which lasted for nearly forty years. 
To effect changes as sweeping as these in the 
anxious days of the Crimean War and the Indian 
Mutiny was in itself a remarkable achievement; but 
the very speed with which they were made was a 
cause of some of the difficulties which followed. 
There were defects of organisation. The Depart- 
ment had been thrown together with too little regard 
to the principles on which the organisation should 
work. The Secretary of State was overwhelmed with 
work, swamped with papers from the several depart- 
ments requiring decisions on minor points. There 
were no great administrative officers to stand be- 
tween the Minister and the sub-departments and 
relieve him of all but important questions. It was 
impossible without neglecting policy to see that the 
branches worked with efficiency. Florence Nightin- 
gale, writing to Sidney Herbert, described the de- 
partment in 1 859 as 

"a very slow office, an enormously expensive office, 
a not very efficient office, and one in which the 
minister's intentions can be entirely negatived by 
all his sub-departments, and those of each of the 
sub-departments by every other. " 

Apart from this, a great source of trouble lay in the 
position of the Commander-in-Chief. A supple- 
mentary patent of office had been issued in 1855 to 
the new Secretary of State for War in which a special 
reservation was made. "Subject to the responsibility 
of the Secretary of State," the command, discipline 
and military appointments were reserved to the 


General Commanding-in-Chief. This reservation did 
nothing at all to clarify the position of the two 
officers, while it certainly did not improve relations. 
Its constitutional effect, we may note in passing, 
was considered later by a Select Committee, who 
concluded that the patent was unnecessary and in- 
operative; and in fact, in 1861, the Queen signed a 
memorandum, drawn up by Sir George Cornewall 
Lewis, in which the position was better defined. In 
this document the Commander-in-Chief was assigned 
his powers "subject to our general control over the 
government of the Army, and the responsibility of 
the Secretary of State for the exercise of Our Royal 
Prerogative"; but Sir George Cornewall Lewis, then 
Secretary of State, made no use at all of this royal 
declaration, which v T ^as only discovered among his 
private papers when he died in 1868. 

Meanwhile, in practice, there was dual control, 
and the Horse Guards party was strong and numerous. 
No doubt the view was held widely that all that is 
implied in the word "patronage," all honours and 
rewards of a military kind, should be in the hands of 
the Commander-in-Chief rather than in the hands of 
a member of Parliament; and the embarrassment of 
the position was much accentuated by another cir- 
cumstance a circumstance so difficult that states- 
men shirked the real solution. 

At the close of the Crimean War Lord Hardinge 
had been succeeded as Commander-in-Chief by the 
Queen's first cousin, the Duke of Cambridge. The 
Duke, who had commanded a division in the 
Crimea, took a strong personal interest in the 
Army and had written memoranda on Army 

THE TIDE OF REFORM (1854-1904) 55 

administration. His ideas were extremely conserva- 
tive. A man "to whom a new idea was perdition" 
is a critic's phrase which is unkind but in some 
respects is not exaggerated. Remembering his 
intense loyalty to the Crown and his devotion to the 
Army as an institution, we may perhaps appreciate 
the depth of dismay and the honest distrust en- 
gendered in the Duke by political schemes of Army 
reform. More particularly he detested any step which 
seemed to infringe his own position as representative 
of the Sovereign's powers. By intention he was the 
Army's best friend: he worked hard hand in hand 
with Sidney Herbert, when the latter was Secretary 
of State for War (1859-61), with a view to improving 
the soldier's lot : but he treated the War Office with 
polite disdain as an inconvenient civil rival, and 
whenever it suited his own convenience, he submitted 
questions direct to the Queen. On the subject of 
parliamentary control his views hardened as the 
years went by. 

On this last point, to make matters more difficult, 
the Duke possessed, in full measure, the sympathy 
of his royal cousin. The Queen, deeply sensible of 
her duty to her Empire, proud of her Army and 
anxious for its welfare, was jealous of any political 
tendency to curtail or endanger the Prerogative 
powers. Finally, the situation was by no means 
improved by the fact that the Commander-in-Chief 's 
office was housed at the Horse Guards and not in 
Pall Mall. Apart from its practical inconvenience, 
this separation did much to foster an unfortunate 
feeling of antagonism between the "military " and 
the "civil" departments. 


Meanwhile, as the tide of committees shows, the 
new centralised office was doing its best, and Parlia- 
ment was extremely watchful. Parliament had ex- 
changed new panics for old. It no longer dreaded a 
standing Army: it feared lest the country should be 
caught unprepared and was scared of the cost of 
making it safe. Lord Palmerston had used most 
striking words. He had said* in 1857: 

" . . . our army must be more than a domestic 
police. We have colonies to strengthen, possessions 
to maintain ; and you must bear in mind that peace, 
however long it may continue, is not merely 
dependent on ourselves, but on the conduct of 
other Powers, and you must look forward to hav- 
ing a force sufficient at least to protect you in the 
outset from insult or attack. Depend upon it, for a 
country great and rich to leave itself without the 
means of defence is not a method to preserve 
peace in the long run." 

However, no Government would face the expense of 
any far-reaching reforms of the system ; and while in 
the labyrinths of Pall Mall and the Horse Guards 
well-meaning but uninspired staffs slowly penned 
their formal drafts and watched the shadows cast by 
their lamps, other eyes were watching a new shadow, 
growing, spreading, formidable the shadow of 
Prussian military might. 

But while the collapse of French military power 

before the new Germany's swift-moving armies was 

startling the whole of Europe, a great figure had 

made his appearance in the chequered history of 

* Note 8, page 341. 

THE TIDE OF REFORM (1854-1904) 57 

Army administration. England had found a great 
Secretary for War in the clear-sighted and resolute 
person of the Rt. Hon. Edward Cardwell. Appointed 
by Gladstone as Secretary of State in December 
18685 this remarkable statesman achieved reforms in 
the space of five years the importance of which can 
hardly be overstated. He had made a study of the 
military problem before he accepted the seals of 
office, and had stipulated that Lord Northbrook 
should be appointed his Under-Secretary of State. 
The latter's committee on War Office methods 
dwelt on the existing division of control, and made 
a series of important recommendations aimed at the 
closer co-ordination of the military and the civil 
administration of the Army. One of these was that 
the Commander-in-Chief should be housed in the 
same building as the Secretary of State. The Duke of 
Cambridge showed strong opposition: it would 
place him, he said, "in a position of subordination* ' 
and would be "most injurious to the interests of the 
Crown"; and the Queen considered, in writing to 
Cardwell, that "such a step could not fail to damage 
the position of the Commander-in-Chief." However, 
Cardwell put a stop at once to all correspondence by 
formal epistle between Pall Mall and the Horse 
Guards office, and the number of letters received by 
the department was reduced in one year by 30,000. 
Cardwell had said when he took office : 

"I contend for the principle of plenary respon- 
sibility to Parliament on the part of the Parliament- 
ary head of the Department; and, consequently, 
for the absence of all reservations expressed or 
implied from the authority of that officer/' 


Accordingly, in 1870, adopting the lead of the 
Northbrook Committee, he secured the passage of 
the War Office Act (33-4 Viet. c. 17), and by an 
Order in Council of June 4th the position of the 
Secretary of State for War as administering "the 
Royal Authority and Prerogative in respect of the 
Army" was made quite explicit. 

The formal declaration that the Commander-in- 
Chief was a subordinate of the Minister for War 
was, of course, a blow to the Duke of Cambridge. 
The Duke was given rooms at the War Office, and 
soothed, we may hope, his injured feelings by 
addressing his letters from "The Horse Guards , 
Pall Mall." 

The effects of the Act were briefly as follows: 
Under the control of the Secretary of State the work 
of Army administration was divided between three 
great officers: (i) the Officer Commanding-in-Chief, 
(2) the Surveyor-General of Ordnance, and (3) the 
Financial Secretary. The position of the Commander- 
in-Chief was that of principal military adviser. He 
had charge of the raising, training and discipline of 
the combatant personnel of all regular and auxiliary 
forces; and his sphere was enlarged by placing under 
him, in addition to the auxiliary forces, the depart- 
ment for Military Education, and the recently created 
Topographical branch which later became the Intelli- 
gence Department. The Surveyor-General was given 
the control of all the civil administrative duties, such 
as transport, supply, clothing and munitions, with 
entire responsibility for the purchase, construction 
and charge of material. He was head of a so-called 
Control Department* The third chief, the Financial 

THE TIDE OF REFORM (1854-1904) 59 

Secretary, was responsible for the financial side: for 
the estimates presented to Parliament; the appro- 
priation, accounting and audit of funds, and the 
control of the Army Pay Department. The Central 
Department, or Secretariat, was under two Under- 
secretaries of State, one Parliamentary and one 

The idea which inspired these changes was unity. 
Purely military work was concentrated under the 
Commander-in-Chief, but the Commander-in-Chief 
was brought into Pall Mall and so, it was hoped, 
"more into council/ ' Under the former duality of 
arrangement the officers of the military department 
were responsible only to the Commander-in-Chief, 
and the Secretary of State was cut off from their 
advice. By attempting to make the offices one Card- 
well hoped to establish a chain of responsibility: the 
Secretary of State could obtain information, and 
responsibility could be brought home. We may note 
that at this time the staff of the War Office consisted 
of 82 superior officers and 673 clerks, and its annual 
cost was a quarter of a million. 

Cardwell's other schemes were no less striking. 
In the light of the recent example of Prussia the 
first need was to create means for expanding the 
Army for the purposes of war. With so large a force 
kept in India and 47,000 men tied in the Colonies, 
the number of Regulars at home was small (87,500), 
and no real reserve existed at all. The Militia and 
the Volunteers were not liable for foreign service, 
and were under the control of the Lieutenants of 
Counties. The Regulars were normally enlisted for 
life, and the only ex-Regular soldiers available were 


22,000 aged pensioners who would not go far as a 
reserve force. In fact, in the stress of the Crimean 
crisis it had been necessary to engage three foreign 
legions, one German, one Swiss and one Italian. 

Moreover, a dilemma confronted Cardwell, for 
the great goal at which he aimed was an effective 
system of national defence, but at the same time a re- 
duction of cost was expected by the Cabinet and the 
House of Commons. Accordingly, his first step was 
to reduce the garrisons scattered abroad, the principle 
being now accepted that colonies, other than coaling- 
stations, should be responsible for their own defence. 
He aimed at achieving a more balanced force of 
100,000 Regulars at home and 91,000 in India and 
the Colonies, and his scheme for attaining this end 
was so skilful that the Estimates for 1869 showed a 
decrease of over a million pounds. His second step 
was the Army Enlistment Act, passed in 1870, by 
which men were enlisted for twelve years only, part 
of this term to be spent with the colours and the 
remainder in the Army Reserve, which would be 
built up into a large force in course of time by these 
means. The Act also took power to call out the 
Reserve in case of great emergency without waiting 
for actual hostilities. Thus for the first time in English 
history effect was given to the important principle 
that what England required was a small army capable 
of expansion in time of war; and the outbreak of war 
between France and Germany before the Act was 
finally passed seemed like a comment on Cardwell's 

His next reform, the abolition of Purchase, was 
helped forward, no doubt, by the war on the 

THE TIDE OF REFORM (1854-1904) 61 

Continent, but was none the less an astonishing 

As matters stood, in the Cavalry and the Infantry 
each step of promotion up to the rank of Lieut.- 
Colonel depended on money and not on merit. 
This system, at first sight so incomprehensible, 
was as old as the standing Army itself. The gentle- 
man who raised a new regiment for the King re- 
couped himself for part of the expense by making 
those whom he appointed as officers pay for the 
privilege by buying their commissions. When a 
captain retired, or bought his promotion, he naturally 
sold his captain's commission to the officer who suc- 
ceeded him. Thus juniors who could afford the 
money passed cheerfully over their seniors. Taking 
average figures in CardwelPs time, a Lieutenant- 
Colonel in the Infantry who had purchased his 
promotion at each step had paid in all ^7,000; in 
the Household Cavalry ^13,000. The regiments 
virtually belonged to the officers; and no Govern- 
ment dared to cope with the evil, partly because of 
the enormous cost of recouping the officers for what 
they had spent, and partly because of the fierce 
opposition evoked by any suggestion of change. 
Most of the influential families in the country were 
identified with the officers 5 interests, and the officers 
themselves were anything but sanguine on the 
dubious subject of Government generosity, for the 
cost which the State would have to bear was estimated 
at eight million pounds. 

But Cardwell cared for none of these things. 
For the purposes of the Secretary of State the 
existing system was clearly hopeless: he was 


hampered in reducing the cadres of units; he could 
not open a career to efficient officers; and he could 
not intermix purchase-officers with the non-pur- 
chase officers of the auxiliary forces. His Bill, 
called the Army Regulation Bill, was introduced in 
February 1871, and was passed by the Commons 
after lengthy resistance. The Duke of Cambridge 
did not like it : it would not be for the good of the 
Army if it lowered the social class of officers. In the 
Lords it was out-voted at first, but the Queen was 
persuaded by Mr. Gladstone to come to the rescue 
of her ministers by cancelling certain ancient 
Warrants, an exercise of the Crown's powers which 
made the whole system of Purchase illegal and 
evoked incidentally a chorus of disapproval, except 
on the part of the general public. After this to pro- 
long the struggle was pointless ; and the Lords, who 
would have passed a vote of censure at once, had it 
not been for the Goodwood Races, were content with 
a protest when the meeting was over. The Army 
Regulation Act became law, and in addition to the 
abolition of Purchase it introduced two other 
changes the transfer to the Crown from the Lords 
Lieutenant of the control of the Militia, the 
Yeomanry and the Volunteers, and the power of the 
War Department to control the railway system in 
case of a threatened invasion of the country. 

The next reform gave birth to the scheme known 
ever since as the Cardwell system. 

It was, and is, a fundamental conception of 
this system that the drafts of men required in 
peace for the maintenance of the garrisons abroad 
should be trained and supplied by service units 

THE TIDE OF REFORM (1854-1904) 63 

such as regiments of Cavalry, batteries and 
battalions rather than by mere depots. But in 
Cardwell's time a regiment of Infantry did not 
normally possess a second battalion which could 
train and provide drafts from home. The units 
posted to oversea garrisons remained there for many 
years and were fed by large and expensive depots. 
Further, there was no balance in the numbers. In 
1868 there had been 47 battalions of the Line at 
home and as many as 94 abroad. Again, the Militia 
had no connection with the Regulars, and the 
Volunteers were equally unattached. All this Card- 
well set out to remedy. Under his Localisation Scheme 
the British Isles were divided into sixty-six districts, 
and two Regular battalions were allotted to each, 
the 6oth Rifles and the Rifle Brigade (each of which 
comprised four battalions) being left, like the Guards, 
to be treated separately. In each district was a 
"depot centre'* with an experienced Regular officer 
in command, who would supervise the work of re- 
cruiting not only of the Line regiments but also of 
the Militia battalions which belonged to the same 
territorial district; and would administer and inspect 
the Volunteers and the reservists. Of the Regular 
battalions for each district one was to be at home 
and the other abroad; and to obtain the necessary 
double battalions single battalions were "linked" in 
pairs, so that one linked battalion could feed the 

The plan for thus "linking" the old regiments 
gave rise, of course, to much opposition as a blow 
dealt to regimental sentiment, but the scheme as a 
whole was essentially sound ; for, besides facilitating 


the relief of garrisons without disturbance of the 
forces at home, its basic idea had a large importance. 
In every territorial district there was now formed an 
* 'administrative brigade" of Regular, Militia and 
Volunteer infantry, and the Artillery was dealt with 
on similar lines ; so that here was the means of main- 
taining at home a strategic reserve and a home 
defence force as well as the means of replenishing 
and relieving the garrisons of India and the Colonies. 
Cardwell aimed at a force of two Army Corps, each 
consisting of 30,000 men, and behind them an army 
for home defence of Militia, Yeomanry and Volun- 
teers which would number, he hoped, 300,000 men. 
He was laying down the solid foundations on which 
Lord Haldane eventually built. 

The work of this "born administrator" was com- 
pleted in 1873. He would riot give way to Mr. 
Gladstone's demands for further reductions in the 
Regular forces, and in the following February, when 
the Government was defeated, he surrendered his 
seals and was raised to the peerage. In his five years 
of office Lord Cardwell had achieved a most remark- 
able series of Army reforms. The War Department 
had been re-organised and concentrated in one 
building. Purchase of commissions had been abol- 
ished, and the way was open to promotion by 
merit. An Army Reserve was in process of formation. 
All the forces had been brought together in a logical 
scheme which permitted expansion. Money had been 
provided for buildings and lands. The Intelligence 
Department had been created. Big guns had been 
made for fortifications, and the number of field guns 
had been increased to a total of 336. The soldier had 

THE TIDE OF REFORM (1854-1904) 65 

been given free rations. This was, in truth, no mean 
record. Morley remarks in his Life of Gladstone . , . 
"In Mr. Cardwell he was fortunate enough to have 
a public servant of the first order"; to which Lord 
Cardwell would certainly have added that he him- 
self had been fortunate enough to find very able 
men in the War Office. One of these, of course, was 
his friend Lord Northbrook; a second was Mr. 
Ralph Knox, who in later years, as Sir Ralph Knox, 
became Permanent Under-Secretary of State; and a 
third was Colonel Sir Garnet Wolseley, soon to 
become a national figure. 

After these heroic efforts the War Office enjoyed 
a few years of peace. Indeed, the only memorable 
change was a great re-organisation of the civil staff 
(1878-80) which created a higher and a lower 
division, "administrative" and "clerical." Then, in 
1880, Mr. Hugh Childers became Secretary of State 
for War a statesman who will be remembered 
chiefly for his introduction of the territorial system, 
"a measure," we are told, "which gave rise to more 
friction and ill-feeling in the Army than perhaps 
any other introduced during the last century." 

Up to this time regiments had numbers, but 
under the new and unpopular scheme the two 
Regular and two Militia battalions belonging to 
the Cardwell brigade-districts were combined to 
form one regiment, the linked battalions losing 
their numbers and adopting instead a territorial 
name. For example, the old 3Oth Foot became the 
ist Battalion, The East Lancashire Regiment, and 
the 59th Foot became the 2nd Battalion. The 
Stanley Committee of 1876 had recommended this 


further step, and the Duke had written at once to 
the Queen that the idea was "most dis tasteful' * to 
him; while the Queen was "most anxious to sup- 
port His Royal Highness." The Duke did not 
like the linked system at all, much less this new 
extension of it. "The result is," he wrote in 1880, 
"that the whole of the Infantry at home is one vast 
depot fit for nothing but to supply drafts for the 
Battalions abroad"; and Lord Airey's committee of 
the same year had doubtless been influenced by His 
Royal Highness in reporting in favour of unlinking 
the units. But the strong Mr. Childers had his way, 
and his "full development" of the Card well system 
was carried through amid angry protests. In a bitter 
struggle within the War Office he had received much 
support from Sir Garnet Wolseley, who, after his 
success in the Zulu War, was now the most popular 
soldier in England. The Duke hated his "damned 
new-fangled methods," but the Press hailed him as 
"our only general," much to the annoyance of the 
royal circle. The modern expression "O.K." had its 
counterpart then in "All Sir Garnet," and the 
"modern major-general" of The Pirates of Penzance 
was made up on the stage as the hero of the 

The Duke in a rebellious mood tried to insist 
that "the command-in-chief cannot be merged in 
the Secretary of State under present conditions," but 
the protests made by His Royal Highness were met 
by Mr. Childers with a firm statement of the control- 
ling power of the Secretary of State. 

The success of the new short-service system was 
seen in 1882, when the Arabi revolt took place in 

THE TIDE OF REFORM (1854-1904) 67 

Egypt and the reserves were called up for the first 
time. Twelve thousand reservists responded at once: 
the critics of Cardwell were temporarily silenced, and 
Wolseley added to his laurels at Tel-el-Kebir. But 
the Mahdi rising in the Sudan and the expedition 
sent to relieve General Gordon (with which Major 
Kitchener served on the staff) were followed by a 
great change in the War Office. Wolseley had been 
extremely wrathful at the dubious quality of the 
munitions supplied when he led the troops on the 
Nile campaign : cartridges had been found defective, 
and bayonets and swords had been known to bend 
a disconcerting attribute. The view was urged that 
the military departments could not be responsible 
for the efficiency of the troops unless full control 
over transport and stores were granted to those who 
knew best what was wanted; and this view was 
accepted by Mr. Stanhope, the Secretary of State in 
Lord Salisbury's Government, and was given effect 
by two Orders in Council of 1887 and 1888. 

CardwelTs triple division disappeared. The Sur- 
veyor-General of the Ordnance was abolished, and 
responsibility for military efficiency was concentrated 
on the Commander-in-Chief who was now to feed, 
pay and equip the Army as well as to assume re- 
sponsibility for fortifications, stores and guns. The 
War Office thus became two divisions : the Military, 
responsible to the Secretary of State for advising as 
to what the Army required, and the Civil, for seeing 
that demands were met with due regard for proper 
economy. At the same time the manufacturing depart- 
ments the munition factories at Woolwich and 
Enfield were placed upon a "commercial" footing, 


being paid by the Government Departments con- 
cerned for all stores produced to their orders. They 
were under the control of the Financial Secretary as 
the head of the civil division of the office, but design 
was the business of the Commander-in-Chief. The 
Central branch remained unchanged. 

The arrangement so made was not destined to 
last. It put too much on the Commander-in-Chief, 
and interpolated a single great officer between the 
heads of departments and the Secretary of State. The 
cost of the Services was growing enormously, but 
despite that disturbing fact the country was said to 
be totally unprepared. Wolseley told the Lords (May 
1888) that the state of the Forces was unsatisfactory : 
they were not "organised or equipped as they should 
be to guarantee even the safety of the Capital." The 
Queen was alarmed, but hardly appreciated the 
difficulties which arose from the view held by the 
Duke of Cambridge on the right moment for making 
changes "The right time is when you cannot help 
it." One result was the appointment of a new Royal 
Commission under the Marquess of Hartington. 

The famous Hartington reports marked a turning- 
point in War Office history. The evidence given was 
discreetly suppressed. The first report (May 1889) 
suggested the creation of a co-ordinating Council, 
with the Prime Minister to take the chair and the 
naval and military chiefs to advise. The second 
report (March 1890, C. 5979) was received with 
dismay in many quarters. It rehearsed the responsi- 
bility of the Secretary of State for the discipline as 
well as of the administration of the Army : it expressed 
the view that too great a burden rested on the 

THE TIDE OF REFORM (1854-1904) 69 

shoulders of the Commander-in-Chief : it suggested 
with delicacy that no future Commander-in-Chief 
could manage as well as the Duke had managed, but 
that when a suitable opportunity should arise the 
post of Commander-in-Chief should be abolished. 
It suggested the appointment of a Chief of Staff who 
should study and advise on military policy. The 
heads of the several departments in the War Office 
would be responsible directly to the Secretary of 
State, and would advise him collectively as a War 
Office Council. 

Lord Hartington used these words in the Com- 
mons: "We have felt that under our constitution 
it is impossible to place any direct control over 
the army, over army organisation, in the hands 
of any man except one who shall be directly re- 
sponsible to the House of Commons." To place 
between the parliamentary chief and the heads of the 
various sub-departments a single supreme military 
head to whom all other officers were subordinate 
was, he explained, a mistaken plan. It would diminish 
the efficiency of the War Office Council by tending 
to stifle that freedom of discussion on which the 
civilian Minister must rely. 

Even Lord Wolseley was shocked at this. He 
favoured the creation of a Chief of Staff, and also a 
Council for National Defence ; but the Commander- 
in-Chief must not be abolished. To the Queen the 
report was "really abominable, " and the Duke of 
Cambridge wrote of "catastrophe" that threatened 
both the Crown and the Army. For the time being 
nothing was done. Then, after the lapse of five years, 
the Duke of Cambridge, now 76, closed his long 


career of devotion to the Army by resigning his post 
at the wish of the Queen ; Lord Wolseley was ap- 
pointed Commander-in-Chief, and the War Office 
was reformed once more by a very half-hearted 
adaptation of some of the ideas of the Hartington 
report, the change being effected by an Order in 
Council of 2 ist November, 1895. 

The Stanhope plan was thus reversed, and the 
concentration of responsibility in the hands of the 
Commander-in-Chief was abolished. There were 
now to be five great military officers: the Com- 
mander-in-Chief as chief adviser, with general 
command of all the forces; the Adjutant-General 
for recruiting, discipline, training and military 
education; the Quarter-M aster-General for food, 
forage, quartering, fuel, transport and pay; the 
Inspector-General of Fortifications for barracks, 
store-buildings, fortifications and lands; and, lastly, 
the Inspector-General of Ordnance for the design 
and the holding of military stores. The Com- 
mander-in-Chief was to supervise the other four 
branches in a general way, and so to focus military 
opinion; but the theory was that all the five were 
directly responsible to the Secretary of State. The 
department of the Financial Secretary and the Central 
office were not affected. 

But the situation a compromise was still not 
satisfactory. To retain an officer as "Commander-in- 
Chief" who in his relations to the Secretary of State 
was on the same level as the other heads was to give 
him a general responsibility without giving him real 
control. Lord Wolseley felt that the Commander-in- 
Chief had become merely "the fifth wheel of the 

THE TIDE OF REFORM (1854-1904) 71 

coach/' He had no effective control himself, while 
the other heads were not fully responsible: the 
Secretary of State was the real Chief. Wolseley felt, 
as his biographers show, that civilian statesmen 
thought only of peace and quite forgot the needs of 
war. War came in 1899. 

For the purposes of the Boer War the number of 
men paid and equipped, including the forces pre- 
pared in this country, amounted to over half a 
million. That war, or at least the first part of it, has 
been described as a terrible muddle, a series of almost 
uninterrupted disappointments, of military failures, 
financial blunders, and false methods of estimating 
difficulties. A great strain was put on the War Office; 
but the Elgin Commission on the South African War 
which reported in 1902 [Cd. 1789] did not allot a 
large measure of blame to the organisation of the 
department. It pointed out that the papers of the 
Intelligence branch had never been passed to the 
Secretary of State by the office of the Commander- 
in-Chief: there was still a lack of consultation: but 
the serious shortage in stocks of stores was partly the 
result of Government economy. In the military 
system taken as a whole the report disclosed alarming 

But before the war had dragged on to its close 
some interesting changes occurred at the War Office. 

In November, 1 9OO,LordLansdowne,the Secretary 
of State, was succeeded by Mr. St. John Brodrick, 
and Wolseley was succeeded as Commancler-in-Chief 
in the same month by Lord Roberts. A third event 
(1901) was the report of the Clinton-Dawkins Com- 
mittee, which emphasised the important principle of 


"decentralising" the work of the War Office by 
placing a fuller responsibility in the hands of local 
district commanders. Mr. Brodrick aimed at six 
"Army Corps districts," with local auditors to assist 
the commanders. As further results of the same 
Committee the Medical branch was elevated in 
status to rank with the other chief military depart- 
ments, and the power of the Commander-in-Chief 
was increased once more. The reader may well begin 
to wonder how the War Office survived these in- 
cessant reforms. The department of the Adjutant- 
General, as well as that of the Military Secretary and 
an enlarged department for Military Intelligence 
which embraced "mobilisation" duties, now passed 
to the "control" of the Commander-in-Chief, while 
he retained "supervision" of the other departments 
and sat as head of an Army Board (which dated from 
1895) intended to focus the military view. The 
Secretary of State had the "War Office Council," 
which Wolseley had called a debating society, to 
tender advice on important questions. There were 
thus two consultative committees. It was fortunate 
for such a system that the old antagonisms were 
lulled. Already its end was drawing near. 

Lord Elgin's commission on the war in South 
Africa alarmed the country thoroughly, and Mr. 
Balfour as Prime Minister addressed his keen and 
powerful intellect to the great problem of national 
defence. Mr. Balfour was impressed by the Admiralty 
system, while the War Office system had failed con- 
spicuously to prevent grave errors and waste of 
expenditure. A searching review was urgently needed, 
and thus was appointed the Esher Committee, that 

THE TIDE OF REFORM (1854-1904) 73 

famous body of three members which created the 
form of the modern War Office. Its President and 
one of its members had been closely connected with 
the Hartington Commission, and one of its leading 
recommendations closed for ever a long duel : 

"We therefore consider that it is imperative to 
abolish the office of Commander-in-Chief." 

To the student of constitutional history that duel 
possesses a special interest. It illustrates how, in the 
phrasing of Anson, the Royal Prerogative in respect 
of the Army accommodated itself by slow degrees to 
the theory of ministerial responsibility. The Minister 
of the Crown is responsible to Parliament for the 
exercise of the King's Prerogative: he is also, in the 
phrase of the same writer, bound to take care that the 
Crown Prerogative is not exercised by Parliament. 
Meanwhile the German navy grew. 

Chapter V 

WHILE the constitution of the old War Office was 
being remodelled by the Esher reports, its home in 
Pall Mall was fast approaching the end of its days. 

As a matter of some historical interest the writer 
has been at pains to establish, with the kind assistance 
of the Office of Works, the origin of the old building. 
It was a conglomeration of ancient houses numbered 
80 to 91 Pall Mall, which were thrown together 
mainly by the simple process of making doors in 
the walls between them, with no alteration of the 
level of floors. 

Prior to this economic expedient No. 80 was 
the house of Sir John Kirkland whose business 
as an Army Agent developed later into "Holt 
& Co." The next numbers eastwards, 81 and 82, 
formed part of the mansion "Schomberg House," 
originally built about the year 1690 for the Duke of 
Schomberg who was killed at the battle of the 
Boyne. Here had lived three fashionable artists, 
Astley, Conway the miniature-painter, and Thomas 
Gainsborough himself; not to mention the notorious 
Dr. Graham who called his apartments "the Temple 
of Hymen in Pall Mall" and employed a "goddess," 
Emma Harte, who was afterwards famous as Lady 
Hamilton. Nos. 83 and 84, where Christie the great 
auctioneer had lived, next door to his friend Gains- 


borough, were taken over by the Government in 
1851 for enlargement of the office of the Board of 
Ordnance. The old Ordnance Office was the central 
structure, Nos. 85-87, originally built in 1760 for 
the Duke of York, brother of George III. Later it 
was known as "Cumberland House, and was taken 
over in 1806 when the Master-General of the Ord- 
nance moved from the Tower. Nos. 88 to 90 were 
houses and shops. The eastern wing, Buckingham 
House, which was bought by the Government in 
1855, was originally designed by Sir John Soane 
and erected about 1780. As the home of the first 
Marquess of Buckingham, and afterwards of the 
Duchess of Gordon, this mansion saw some exciting 
scenes as the headquarters of the Tory party in the 
days of the struggles between Pitt and Fox. 

Thus the amalgamation of 1858 which created 
a home for the consolidated War Office consisted 
in making a larger building out of the old office 
of the Board of Ordnance by adding Schomberg 
House, Buckingham House, and three or four 
small houses and shops. There used to be a tale 
that the house of Nell Gwynn was embodied some- 
where in the rambling building, but the authorities 
appear to agree that her dwelling (she had previously 
lived opposite) was next door at the western end. 

The modern civil servant is apt to smile at the 
stories that are told of the old War Office: stones 
of short hours and leisurely methods, of procedure 
dictated by long tradition, of the amending of drafts 
for the sake or amending, of an outlook narrowed 
by branch-insularity. Before the year 1870 the civil 
staff was recruited by patronage and not by com- 


petitive examinations, and probably some of the old 
generation were gentlemen more picturesque than 
efficient among whom traditional methods and 
jealousies lingered on to the time of the Boer War. 
Electric light and a luncheon club were twentieth- 
century innovations. The conditions under which 
the clerks worked were not highly conducive either 
to comfort or to speed. No telephones, no typewriters, 
the pleasant odours of colza-oil lamps, a tiresome 
jumble of rambling passages, sudden stairs and 
confusing turns such is the picture presented to us 
even as late as the eighteen-nineties. To settle a 
matter verbally in place of penning a lengthy 
* 'minute" involved a journey to another branch 
which implied an adventurous expedition. Visitors, 
we are told, enquired anxiously what means existed 
for finding their way out, provided they ever found 
their objective. Making due allowance for banausic 
fables, we are left with the impression of a slow 
machine patched up in parts, worn out in others, 
creaking along to the best of its power on lines that 
have never been properly laid. 

Yet in the span of those fifty years reviewed 
briefly in the previous chapter much had been done 
in the old War Office which the impartial critic will 
not belittle. Kipling's "absent-minded beggar" of 
the year 1 900 was a person very different from the 
soldier of the Crimea. 

At the beginning of the period (1854) the soldier 
belonged to what was practically a separate caste: 
he was enlisted for life, uneducated, badly paid, and 
shockingly provided as to housing and amenities, 
The officers were a very gallant body, but with few 


exceptions they made no pretence of regarding the 
handling and management of troops as requiring 
scientific study. Officers of the Staff retained their 
appointments without regard to efficiency. Admini- 
stration was so scattered as to be almost incapable of 
united action. The Army as a whole was still dreaded 
as a menace to liberty and constitutional government, 
and was kept out of sight in distant garrisons. 

But by the time of the South African War vast 
strides had been made in the direction of efficiency. 
The soldier was now better paid, better fed, better 
housed and better educated; and his future in civil 
life was considered. For officers, since the abolition of 
Purchase, the military calling was no longer merely 
"a phase in the sporting equipment of a gentleman." 
The Staff College was turning out men who took their 
profession as a serious study. An Intelligence Depart- 
ment had been formed. The ancillary services of the 
Army had been developed as corps of recognised 
importance. Decentralisation of responsibility from 
the War Office to the local commands had begun to 
be put into operation. The Army Reserve had been 
created. The Militia and the Volunteers had been 
organised to some extent, and at least possessed 
roles in a military scheme. Mobilisation plans existed 
and had worked smoothly in the test of war. Perhaps 
the old War Office in Pall Mall was not really as 
inefficient as the history of its quarrels suggests, or 
as outsiders were fond of alleging. Certainly in the 
late 'eighties it contained some extremely able men. 
The young civil servants of that period included the 
future Sir Reginald Brade, who was Secretary of the 
War Office in the Great War, and the future Sir 


Charles, then Mr., Harris, a notable figure in Army 
Finance who was one of Lord Haldane's right-hand 
men. Nor was there ever any trace of "red tape" in 
the popular personality of Sir Bertram Cubitt. The 
leading civil servants at the time when the Esher 
Committee's reports made their fierce attack on 
"civilian control" were Sir Frank Marzials, the 
Accountant-General, and Sir Guy Fleetwood-Wilson, 
who was afterwards Financial Member of the 
Governor-General's Council in India. 

The three reports of the Esher Committee "The 
War Office Reconstitution Committee" were pub- 
lished in 1904 [Cd. 1932, 1968 and 2002]. The 
Committee consisted of Viscount Esher, Admiral Sir 
John Fisher and Sir George Sydenham Clarke, and 
possessed in Lieut.-Colonel G. F. Ellison a secretary 
of great ability, equipped both with a fluent pen and 
a fervid insistence on thinking clearly. These gentle- 
men were directed by their Terms of Reference to 
take the Admiralty system as the basis of reform, 
and they did so in no uncertain terms. They "re- 
iterated in curt and dogmatic form" the proposals 
made by the Hartington Commission ; they enumer- 
ated "great principles" ; they delivered a bitter attack 
on the Finance Department, which was unsupported 
by any evidence; and their caustic remarks on the 
"past" of the War Office were combined with con- 
fident recommendations. The main principles em- 
bodied in the reports were desiderata already familiar 
to the younger school of thought in the War Office, 
but, if the ideas were not new in themselves, their 


forcible expression by a powerful body was of first 
importance to the cause of reform. The recom- 
mendations re-cast the War Office. They may be 
stated summarily as follows : 

(1) The position of the Secretary of State for War 
should be placed on the same footing as that of the 
First Lord of the Admiralty, and all submissions to 
the Crown in regard to military matters should be 
made by him, and by him alone. 

(2) The War Office should be managed by a 
Council of seven consisting of the Secretary of State 
as president, two other Civil Parliamentary Members, 
and four Military Members of Council. 

(3) All the members of the Army Council should 
act in a dual capacity: as colleagues of the Secretary 
of State in Council, and as responsible for the efficient 
working of their respective departments. 

(4)The appointment of Commander-in-Chief should 
be abolished and his executive functions removed from 
the War Office. The administrative military work of 
the office should be carried out by four military de- 
partments, each serving under a Military Member. 

(5) The two Civil Members of Council would be 
(i) the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, with 
specific duties assigned to him apart from that of 
representing the Army in one of the Houses of 
Parliament, and (ii) the Finance Member, or Finan- 
cial Secretary. The Permanent Under-Secretary of 
State should be Secretary to the Army Council and 
Secretary of the War Office, with a general control 
of office business. 

(6) A General Staff, or "thinking department/' 
should be created as one of the military departments 


under a "Chief of the General Staff" (First Military 
Member of the Army Council). The other three 
military departments should be those of the Adjutant- 
General to the Forces, the Quarter-Master-General to 
the Forces, and the Master-General of the Ordnance, 

(7) Military work of an executive kind (the com- 
mand and training of troops) should be carried out 
locally, vested in Generals outside the War Office 
Great Britain and Ireland being divided for this 
purpose into large "commands" and a London 
District, each placed under a high officer. Adminis- 
trative work in these areas should be under the 
charge of separate high officers subordinate to the 
chief command. 

(8) The preparation and efficiency of the troops 
should be watched by an Inspector-General of the 
Forces who would act as the "eyes and ears" of the 

(9) The system of financial control should be 
reformed; and the two existing bodies dealing with 
finance (the Army Pay Department and the 
Accountant-General's) should be merged into one 
Finance Department under the Finance Member of 
Council. Financial advice should be decentralised, 
small sections of the Finance Department being 
attached to the Military Members of Council, and 
likewise locally in the commands. 

(10) The Military Members should hold their 
appointments for four years only; and a change, of 
personnel both military and civilian should be carried 
out forthwith at the War Office "in order to bring 
new minds to bear upon new measures," 

and "the corner-stone of the needed edifice": 


The existing bodies for advising the Cabinet on the 
co-ordination of naval and military policy should be 
turned into a Committee with a permanent Secre- 
tariat to advise on all questions of Imperial Defence. 

"We venture to claim/' the Committee observed, 
"that we have clearly laid down the great principles 
of reform which lie at the root of the reconstitution 
of the War Office." . . . "For the first time in the 
long annals of War Office reform its intricate prob- 
lems have, we believe, been approached from the 
point of view of war rather than from those of peace." 
. . . "We are convinced that efficiency and economy 
are unattainable until the War Office has been com- 
pletely reconstituted in accordance with the princi- 
ples we have laid down." 

Thus spake the Committee and the thing was done. 
The reception accorded to its claims was striking, 
for the Cabinet took immediate action. By Letters 
Patent of 6th February, 1 904,* all the powers under 
the Royal Prerogative hitherto exercised by the Secre- 
tary of State or the Commander-in-Chief were vested 
in the Army Council; and the adoption en bloc of the 
other proposals established the form of the modern 
War Office. An Order in Council of August loth 
affirmed the supremacy of the Secretary of State as 
responsible to His Majesty and to Parliament for all 
the business of the Army Council. 

This, then, was the end of the struggle for 
supremacy between the civil and military authorities 
in the State. "The political head," in the words of 
Anson, "is and must be supreme"; for this result 
flows naturally, as indeed had long been admitted in 

* Note 9, page 342. 



theory, from the responsibility to Parliament which 
rests upon the Secretary of State. One result of the 
Esher reforms was to leave no professional head of 
the Army who could dispute with the Secretary of 
State for War the holding of the supreme control in 
all phases of military administration. Another effect 
of great importance was to bring together the 
advisory officers, military and financial, in one 
council, and to ensure in this way that military policy 
should be worked out by a body of men who are 
under a common responsibility for advice tendered 
to the Minister. This arrangement secured that the 
Secretary of State should be furnished with the best 
professional opinion. 

So now the War Office, happily undiscouraged by 
years of criticism and anxious to deserve a new 
reputation, settled down quietly to make the scheme 
work. The essential machinery had been provided; 
the way had been paved for another reform, for the 
solution of the main problem which the Boer War 
had thrust to the front the re-organisation of the 
Army itself. Mr. Brodrick had made a brave attempt : 
Mr. Arnold-Forster, who succeeded him, now pos- 
sessed a properly organised War Office. 

Outside, however, storms were raging. It was not 
only in the War Department that new brooms were 
to be introduced. In October, 1905, Mr. Balfour's 
Government was swept away, and a Liberal Govern- 
ment took its place armed with the watchwords 
"peace and retrenchment. " But the War Office was 
fortunate. It secured in Mr. Haldane a Secretary of 
State whose intellectual grasp and boldness of vision 
were matched only by his powers of persuasion ; and 


those powers were soon in evidence. Readers of the 
speeches delivered by Mr. Haldane in the House of 
Commons in the spring of 1906 will learn with some 
surprise, perhaps, of the transformation which had 
taken place in the short space of two years. He had 
found in the War Office "highly skilled experts/' 
The new school of officers was "a revelation/* He 
had found them to be men of "highly scientific 
training and reflective minds." Moreover, the object 
which he had set himself to attain a more efficient 
Army at a smaller cost seemed likely to be assisted 
by another change, scarcely less striking, from the 
sad conditions of older days. "The people/' he said, 
"are not in antipathy to the Army. They love the 
Army. They care about these things/' The nation 
lately had possessed an Army that was extravagant, 
costly and badly organised; but with income-tax at a 
shilling in the it was time that the situation should 
be closely surveyed. All that was required was time to 
think clearly: and this Mr. Haldane proceeded to do. 
His thoughts, put forward with persuasive diffi- 
dence, were of great moment to the British Army, 
and possibly to the course of history. The South 
African War, he pointed out, had left behind it some 
great lessons which the Esher Reports had thrust 
home. One was the value of a "General Staff," and 
the separation of the function of command, with the 
thinking out of plans of operations, from the com- 
plicated duties of detailed administration. Another 
was the value of the Volunteers when given a certain 
amount of training. Previous schemes had confused 
two ideas a force to defend our Empire abroad and 
a force to defend the shores of Britain. Our business 


was to maintain an expeditionary force just so large 
as to form a reserve by means of which strong and 
swift reinforcements could be sent to the aid of our 
garrisons overseas. For home defence in a great crisis 
we could rely on the spirit of the Volunteers, organ- 
ised by "military local government under the control 
of the people themselves." The true organisation for 
this country was an organisation in two lines, not in 
three lines as hitherto not Regulars, Militia and 
Volunteers, but a first line of professional soldiers, 
relatively small in numbers but high in quality, and 
behind it in a crisis the nation itself. 

In these ideas lay the germs of the two creations 
for which Lord Haldane will be chiefly remembered 
the Regular Expeditionary Force and the modern 
Territorial Army. The path was beset with difficulties 
which a weaker Minister would have found fatal, 
for the Haldane plans involved two things which 
offended a large body of sentiment a reduction in 
the numbers of Regular units and the disappearance 
of the old Militia. The Secretary of State was 
attacked bitterly. Indeed, he was told that he was 
ruining the Army, although he had stated again and 
again that both these measures had been put forward 
with the full concurrence of his military advisers. 
The clear-thinking philosopher-statesman was ac- 
cused of having hypnotised his soldier counsellors. 

A policy which once was regarded widely as a 
smirch on the name of a great War Minister deserves 
at least brief notice here. Lord Haldane's thesis can 
be expressed quite simply: a striking force which can 
be mobilised quickly is better than a force which 
cannot be mobilised at all, even if the latter be a little 


larger. Similarly an army for home defence which is 
complete in all arms and services is of greater value 
than a volunteer force consisting of Yeomanry, In- 
fantry, some Garrison Artillery and little else. At that 
time, Mr. Haldane maintained, we were not in a 
position to mobilise quickly. We needed an Expe- 
ditionary Force completely equipped and ready for 
war. We needed a home Territorial Force so organised 
as to make it complete in itself. To meet the cost of 
attaining these ends everything must go that was 
not really needed. Six Infantry divisions and four 
Cavalry brigades, with Artillery and Engineers in 
proportion, and the proper complement of all 
services, were to form the Regular striking force. 
We possessed field guns sufficient in number for 93 
batteries of Regular Artillery, but men sufficient 
for 42 only, while 63 batteries were required for the 
scheme. Haldane proposed to have 99 batteries, of 
which 63, on a four-gun basis, would be placed in a 
"mobilisable" state, and 36 more would be placed in 
reserve and converted into training brigades. Simi- 
larly, in the light of the scheme, 8 battalions of 
Infantry of the Line were surplus to requirements at 
home and abroad. Thus 8 battalions in the colonies 
could disappear, and at least one battalion of Foot 
Guards as well. This, shortly, was the "case" for 
"the Haldane cuts." 

But, keenly as the reductions in the Regulars were 
resented, the scheme to establish a "Special Reserve" 
met with a far more passionate resistance, for it 
sounded the death-knell of the Militia. 

Historically descended from the General Levy, 
the Militia was the old constitutional force the 


county force for home defence. At the close of the 
sixteenth century its reputation stood very high, 
for the command of the "trained bands/' as men- 
tioned earlier, formed a principal subject of hot 
dispute between Charles I and the Long Parliament. 
In the Civil War the effective "bands" fought on 
the parliamentary side, and Parliament at the 
Restoration, while acknowledging the supreme 
command of the King, was careful to see that the 
real control of the county forces was vested in the 
local Lieutenants of Counties. But the new Militia 
fell into decay: it was called out for service in 
1690 on the occasion of the French "invasion" 
when the village of Teignmouth was attacked and 
burnt, and later to deal with the Jacobite risings 
of '15 and '45 led by the Old and the Young 
Pretenders; and was found to be thoroughly in- 
efficient. Consequently it was completely re-organised, 
when Parliament was again in fear of invasion, by 
an Act of 1 757, and the mode of raising the men was 
changed. The liability to furnish recruits, which had 
rested previously on owners of property, was placed 
now on the counties instead, each of which had to 
find a fixed quota of men chosen from parish lists 
by lot ; while the cost of training was transferred to 
the Exchequer. 

This was the work of the elder Pitt, who retained 
the old conception of the Militia as a county force 
for home defence; but that conception was much 
undermined by the policy of Pitt the younger. The 
desperate need of men for the armies abroad in 
the great French war which closed the century, 
the rise of the new Volunteers at home, and, 


finally (1808-15), the raising of a Local Militia, 
changed the position of the general Militia to a force 
with a semi-Regular role. Then after the final defeat 
of Napoleon it ceased to have any real existence until 
a fresh panic in 1848 led to its revival under new laws, 
and it became a force raised by voluntary enlistment, 
with the power of the ballot kept in reserve. In point 
of fact, after 1810 the ballot was never used again 
except in the years 1830-1, although the power to 
use it remained on the statute-book. Lord Cardwell 
described the Militia succinctly as a force " whose 
theory is conscription, but whose practice is volun- 
tary engagement." 

Though never legally liable at any date to be 
summoned to serve outside the kingdom, Militia 
units had volunteered frequently for service abroad 
in times of crisis. Thus large numbers of officers and 
men fought in the Peninsular War, and later in the 
time of the Crimea and the Mutiny the Militia was used 
to replace the Regulars in various colonial garrisons. 
Again in the crisis of the Boer War the Militia was 
invited to volunteer, and more than 45,000 officers 
and men did good service in South Africa. Indeed, 
from the days of the younger Pitt onwards the con- 
ception of the Militia as a home-defence force had 
receded steadily into the background, and the prece- 
dent of using the force to supply drafts of men to the 
Regular Army, although unrecognised in law, had 
become in fact the established practice. Moreover, 
since 1882 the facilities offered to officers and men 
to pass on into the Regulars had made the Militia a 
sort of side-entrance for those who aspired to an 
Army career. 


It was thus a semi-Regular force possessed of 
great and ancient traditions and a long record of 
honourable service ; but at the time of the Haldane 
reforms it was dwindling. Its establishment in 1 906 
was roughly 138,000 men, but its strength was only 
98,000. It had no organisation beyond the regiment, 
no complement of arms other than Infantry, and a 
minimum of modern equipment. Contributing some 
20,000 recruits to the Regular Army every year, it 
was a force, as Lord Lansdowne described it, 
"plundered at one end by the Line and encroached 
on at the other by the Volunteers/' 

The Volunteers were of far more recent origin. 
Their roots did not lie in the constitution : they were 
born of patriotic fervour and were amateurs in the 
truest sense. The first Volunteer Act was passed in 
1794 when the French Revolution was threatening 
trouble. A second was passed in 1 802 when Napoleon 
was massing his troops at Boulogne for that projected 
invasion of England which happily remained a 
project only. So real was the fear and so prompt the 
response that the Volunteer force of those anxious 
days numbered nearly 400,000 men; but with the 
passing of the great emergency the whole movement 
fell into a deep sleep which lasted over forty years. 

Once more it was France who stirred it to life. The 
revival took place in 1859 when the French Army 
was clamouring loudly to be led against "perfidious 
Albion/' following an attempt on the life of their 
Emperor which was planned, so the rumour went, 
in London. Inspired partly by the Poet Laureate 
who penned an appropriate ode on the subject 
("Form, Riflemen, Forml"), the riflemen formed: 


Volunteer corps sprang up all over the country, 
drilled themselves, secured ranges, and paid, at first, 
their own expenses. The Government did not demur: 
the movement was quite a convenient one. Later, 
financial assistance was given in the shape of "capi- 
tation grants" for performing a certain number of 
drills, nd allowances for attending annual camps; 
but the Volunteers, unlike the Militia and the 
Yeomanry, were given no period of continuous 
training apart from these annual exercises. The force 
had now become a permanent institution, and the 
spirit of its members was notably keen some 
20,000 Volunteers saw active service in the Boer 
War but, having grown up in haphazard fashion, 
it had never been thoroughly organised. It did not 
possess higher formations; much less could it boast 
complete divisions with the requisite brigade and 
divisional staffs and a due proportion of arms and 
services. It consisted mostly of Infantry: there were 
some Artillery and Engineers, and also a few medical 
units. The establishment at the time of the Haldane 
reforms was 340,000 men, and the strength was 

This was the state of the auxiliary forces a state 
of very small military value with which Mr. Hal- 
dane was confronted. Basing his plans on the needs 
of war and a clear-cut two-line organisation, he saw 
in the Militia the appropriate instrument to supple- 
ment the Regular Army, provided that it was made 
liable for service abroad; and he saw in the Volunteers 
the natural material for his second-line for home 
defence, provided that it was organised completely 
and made self-contained in all departments on the 


same plan as the Regular divisions. An attempt was 
made to induce the Militia to accept either one of 
two roles: to become definitely an adjunct of the 
Regular Army with the function of supplying drafts, 
or to become the backbone of the second line by 
incorporation with the Volunteers. Both ideas were 
anathema to the Militia colonels. Similarly the 
scheme to create out of the Yeomanry and the 
Volunteers a complete force for home defence, 
organised on the lines of the Regular Army, was 
regarded by officers of the old school as misconceived 
and quite impracticable. It was opposed by England's 
most popular soldier; for Lord Roberts was wedded 
to a scheme of his own, a scheme for compulsory 
military service. The Prime Minister, Sir Henry 
Campbell-Bannerman, was an advocate of drastic 
economy in armaments ; his colleagues for the most 
part were not interested in military affairs; and the 
House of Lords was a stronghold of critical doubt. 
However, in spite of all opposition the Territorial 
and Reserve Forces Act was passed in 1907. The 
Militia ceased to be raised as such, and was replaced 
by the Special Reserve, which was legally part of the 
Army Reserve and was liable for foreign service; 
and the Yeomanry and the Volunteers became a 
Territorial Force, to be organised in 14 divisions of 
Infantry together with 14 mounted brigades and all 
ancillary arms and services. The enlarged duties 
assigned to-day to the modern Territorial Army will 
be noted in a later chapter. The Special Reserve 
created by Lord Haldane (re-christened the Militia 
in 1 92 1 ) is no longer maintained, although the power 
to raise it remains on the statute-book. In the modern 


scheme of mobilisation the supply of drafts in war 
for the Regular Army a primary function of the 
Special Reserve is provided for from other sources. 
The following is an appreciation* written in 1908 
by the foremost military critic of the day. Colonel & 
Court Repington, whose powerful articles as corre- 
spondent of The Times had greatly assisted the 
Haldane schemes. 

"The Liberal Party," this critic wrote, ' Re- 
turned to power in a frame of mind which argued 
ill for the defence of the Empire. Many members 
of this party entertained generous but none the 
less dangerous illusions on the subject of the 
reduction of armaments, and desired amidst a 
world in arms to reduce our insurance against the 
risks of war. The task of the new Secretary of 
State was, in these circumstances, one of the 
utmost delicacy. . . . Mr. Haldane has en- 
deavoured, with the aid of his official advisers, 
who have served him well, to substitute order for 
disorder in the Regular Army and the Second 
Line, to endow the former with a supplementary 
reserve available for war, and to lay down for the 
latter a broad foundation upon which his succes- 
sors may be able hereafter to complete the edifice 
of public security, . . . Despite the storms of 
opposition which beat so fiercely upon all Secre- 
taries for War, Mr. Haldane has held resolutely 
upon his way, has acquired the confidence of the 
Army, and has done his utmost in very difficult 
times to lay the foundations of a settled policy." 

* Note 10, page 343. 


The development of these bold projects continued 
steadily up to 1914, and were under Mr. Haldane's 
personal direction until he left the War Office in 
1912 to become Lord Chancellor. On all sides, now, 
the horizon was darkening. Relations between France 
and Germany had been strained by disputes in regard 
to Morocco. The establishment of an entente cordiale 
between England and France, together with the 
Franco-Russian alliance, had aroused suspicions in 
Germany. England was absorbed in political con- 
troversy and bitter disputes on domestic problems. 
There was more than a hint of trouble in Ireland. 
The trend of events lent colour to the view that the 
military potentialities of Great Britain were held in 
contempt by Germany's leaders a contempt based 
not only on the size of the Army but on a conception 
of the whole attitude of this country as too weakly 
defensive and pacific to be formidable. 

In the fateful year 1 914 the Army Estimates were 
,28,845,000; and the numbers to be voted for the 
Regular Army outside India were 186,400. The 
Army Reserve numbered 147,000; the Special 
Reserve, which replaced the Militia, had reached a 
strength of 63,000; and the newly-created Terri- 
torial Force numbered 252,000 men. These figures 
did not promise much power for effective intervention 
in a war on the Continent ; but one great lesson had 
been well learnt. In the autumn of 1 906 Mr. Haldane 
had been the guest of the Kaiser at Berlin ; and there 
he had examined the German War Office, and had 
seen for himself the condition of readiness in which 
the German Army was kept a condition in which 
it could pass rapidly from a peace-footing to a war- 


footing. This lesson he had applied completely to 
the British Expeditionary Force. The clothes required 
for every reservist who would join the Colours on 
mobilisation, the railway warrant to enable him to 
join, the field-service equipment for every unit 
stored in readiness at a convenient centre, the large 
extra number of horses required, detailed time-tables 
of special trains worked out in concert with the 
railway companies, special fittings for the necessary 
ships . . . every need that could be anticipated had 
been met in a scheme prepared in advance for the 
great emergency of war. In short, every detail had 
been worked out which enabled the War Office, in 
the event, to transport to France within 1 5 days a 
force considerably larger than the mixed army which 
Wellington commanded at Waterloo.* 

Meanwhile the Esher-reformed War Office had 
settled down in its new shape. It comprised, as we 
have seen, the Secretary of State, four departments 
of Military Members of Council, two departments 
under Parliamentary Members, and the department 
of the Secretary. The staff of the military depart- 
ments of the office numbered approximately 630, 
of whom 270 were serving officers and soldiers, 280 
were ex-service personnel, and 80 were technical 
civilians. The staff on the civil side numbered 500, 
excluding press-keepers, messengers and so on. For 
eight years now this staff had been housed in its 
great modern Renaissance home. Twenty-five mil- 
lions of bricks, ordinary; one and a half millions of 
bricks, glazed; seventeen miles of plaster cornices, 
and fifty acres of plastering had been used by His 

* Note ii, page 344. 


Majesty's Office of Works to erect the magnificent 
building in Whitehall which, in the spring of 1914, 
when Mr. Asquith took over the seals of office, was 
considered to be of ample size. A few months later 
it was ludicrously too small. 

The description of the duties performed by the 
War Office which is set out in chapters vi to xn 
is that of the work as it exists to-day. One or two 
post-war adjustments of duties will be noted in the 
final chapter, but the general lines of the present 
organisation are those that existed on the eve of the 
war. The sequence of events from 1914 onwards is 
resumed in chapter xm. 

Chapter VI 


THE "General Staff" is a technical term. It does not 
mean the Staff of the Army in general. At the War 
Office, for example, part of the theory of the organ- 
isation is that it provides the Minister for War with 
the military advice of the Staff in general, including 
all four of the military departments of which only 
one is the "General Staff." The department of the 
General Staff in the War Office is the special military 
division which is devoted exclusively to three sub- 
jects closely allied and interwoven the study of 
the theory and practice of operations, the collection 
of military information, and the preparation and 
training of the Army for war. 

Staffs in the more general sense must have existed 
always in one form or another. Alexander leading the 
hosts of Macedon, or Caesar commanding the Roman 
legions, had round him a band of officers who formed 
a sort of personal staff for transmitting the orders of 
the Commander-in-Chief. Frederick the Great had 
a Staff system reputed to be extremely efficient. 
Napoleon had a specially created Staff, under the 
direction of Berthier, who translated the orders of 
his great master into detailed instructions to the 
commanders of armies. This Staff included a topo- 
graphical section, an anticipation of an important 


feature in a General Staff in its narrower meaning. 
Like so many other modern creations, " General 
Staffs" in the technical sense were developed as a 
result of military disasters, first by Prussia and then 
by France. 

The bitter humiliation of Jena taught the Prussians 
a great lesson the paramount value of organisation. 
The old type of Staff had executive functions: the 
functions now needed were those of study. A body 
was required whose permanent business would be 
to think out the requirements of war, organise the 
forces to meet those requirements, devise a unified 
system of training, and provide fully-informed advice 
on any military situation that was likely to confront 
the rulers of Prussia. The results were the Prussian 
General Staff, the brilliant successes of 1 866, and the 
German triumph of 1870. The Germans won by 
organisation ; and the French in turn took the lesson 
to heart and created the French General Staff of 

Similarly in the case of England the stimulus of 
alarm was needed before any practical action took 
shape to create a British General Staff. The first step 
was taken in the Crimean War when a great want of 
maps was felt, and a Topographical section was 
established at the War Office (January 1855). The 
next advance was made by Cardwell following the 
Franco-German War. In 1873 t ^ e Topographical 
branch was enlarged to form an "Intelligence De- 
partment* * with the duty of collecting all possible 
information which the Government or the Com- 
mander-in-Chief might require concerning the armies 
of foreign Powers and the progress made in military 


science. In 1886 a Mobilisation section was added, 
with the duty of drawing up schemes in peace-time 
for placing the Army on a war footing. These 
offices, which were then under the Adjutant-General, 
certainly marked a considerable advance; but there 
was still nothing in the shape of a staff entrusted with 
the duty of linking these functions, of co-ordinating 
the work of the Intelligence section with the organ- 
isation and training of the troops; or, to put the thing 
in simpler language, there was no body charged with 
the special business of fitting the Army in time of 
peace for its particular role in any probable war. 

Lord Hartington, in 1890, saw clearly that some 
further step was required. "I beg them," he urged, 
addressing the Commons, "to consider the pro- 
priety and the necessity and the urgency of the 
formation of a Department the duty of which shall 
be to work out, study and give judgment upon some 
of the most difficult questions of military policy which 
can be presented to any country." ... "I believe 
that there is sound reason for the principle, which 
has been adopted by every other nation, of placing 
the consideration of these matters under a Depart- 
ment which shall be absolutely [free from every 
administrative and executive duty." 

But the country needed the South African War, 
with its tale of muddle and wasteful effort, to 
provide the spur to the further action which re- 
sulted at last in the Esher Reports and the instant 
acceptance of the Committee's views by Mr. 
Balfour's Government. The triumviri, with their 
customary clearness, combined a brief survey of 
the errors of the past with their very emphatic 



recommendation for the constitution of a "General 
Staff." "A General Staff," they explained, "as the 
term is understood in all well-organised armies, con- 
sists of a department which devotes its attention to 
military problems in the widest sense, and a body of 
officers occupied in peace in the training of all ranks 
of the Army and prepared to direct operations in the 
field." To create such a Staff would require time, 
and "the necessary steps should be taken forthwith." 
The British General Staff was born. 

Mr. Arnold-Forster started the work, but the 
completion of the task fell to Lord Haldane. Trio 
new Prime Minister (Sir Henry Campbell-Banner- 
man) had previously been opposed to it; which ex- 
plains perhaps why the Minister for War was at 
pains to impress the House of Commons with the 
sterling worth of the new creation. He described the 
General Staff as a "thinking department," and re- 
peated rather more picturesquely what the Esher 
Reports had already said on the sore subject of the 
South African War. "Unlike the other great nations, 
we had never established any thinking department 
for the British Army. If there had been such a 
thinking department it would have made out plans 
for the operations in South Africa, with the result 
that the distinguished generals who went there would 
have thought out every inch of their progress before 
they undertook it, instead of having to devise ways 
and means as they went along." He christened the 
department "the brain" of the Army; not a very 
happy phrase to select in the ears of the rest of the 
military world. Colonel Repington was in happier 
vein when he coined the phrase "Peace Strategy," 


Peace Strategy is a big subject. It is big not only 
in its range and complexity, but in its priority of 
importance also, for a nation which cannot defend 
itself must lose control, in the long run, of the order- 
ing of its own affairs. Peace Strategy is concerned 
with the security of the Empire, and calls for inces- 
sant and tireless research. It requires from all 
responsible authorities a complete knowledge of the 
resources of the Empire, and intimate acquaintance 
with the military resources, the country, the traditions 
and the organisation of any potential enemy. Once 
armed with these data it can decide the standard of 
power to be maintained, and the best means of ensur- 
ing defence. 

In the case of the British Empire, therefore, 
Peace Strategy makes two demands: it demands 
the co-ordinated advice of the naval, military and 
air Services; and it demands also the co-ordination 
of the defence problems of the Home Government 
with those of India and the great Dominions. 
These two points formed the first subject dealt 
with in the Esher Reports. "No measure of War 
Office reform will avail unless it is associated with 
provision for obtaining and co-ordinating for the 
use of the Cabinet all the information and the 
expert advice required for the shaping of national 
policy in war, and for determining the necessary 
preparations in peace. Such information and advice 
must necessarily embrace not only the sphere of the 
War Office but also the spheres of the Admiralty and 
of other offices of State, " The result was the formation 
in 1 904 of the existing Committee of Imperial Defence. 
This consists, in theory, of the Prime Minister and 


of such other persons as he may summon to advise 
him; but in practice those other Cabinet Ministers 
who are closely affected by Defence questions, and 
the Chiefs of Staff of the three Fighting Services, 
form a permanent panel of the "C.I.D." 

Thus the General Staff at the War Office is one 
part of a large machine specially created to deal with 
the problems of Peace Strategy, and its functions are 
best appreciated in relation to the whole machine. 
The direction of Defence policy is the business of 
the Government : the business of the several depart- 
ments is to assist the task of the Government by 
providing the best expert advice. The mediumthrough 
which that advice is tendered is the Committee of 
Imperial Defence, of which the Prime Minister him- 
self is the "invariable President" and on which the 
professional views of the Services naval, military 
and air are given by the three Chiefs of Staff. There 
is also a special Sub-Committee of Chiefs of Staffs on 
which it is the business of the three Staffs to co-ordi- 
nate the joint advice of the three Services working in 
unison. The expert "military" view, in the narrow 
sense, is that of the General Staff of the War Office. 

The second aspect of co-ordination the need of 
linking together the work of this Staff with the work 
of Staffs in the rest of the Empire was dealt with 
under the Haldane regime as early as the year 1909. 

The need hardly required stating. If the forces 
were ever to fight together their value as an Army 
would be enhanced immeasurably if the forces of the 
Dominions and of the Home Government had been 
organised and trained on a standard system. Simi- 
larly, as a simple illustration, an obvious advantage 


would be gained in the field if the Dominions used 
the same natures of guns, the same patterns of 
equipment and ammunition. The Imperial Confer- 
ence of 1907 had expressed agreement in the general 
principle, and this step was followed in 1 909 by the 
shaping of a framework for a General Staff for the 
whole Empire [Cd. 4948]. Each Dominion would 
develop its own General Staff who would keep in 
touch with the General Staff in London, whose 
members would be trained on uniform lines, and 
whose policy would be directed by similar principles, 
India worked on the same lines; and the Chief of 
the General Staff at the War Office thus became (in 
1909) the "C.I.G.S." the Chief of the Imperial 
General Staff. 

Perhaps the importance of this development re- 
quires no special emphasis, for the facts of the 
position are plain. The task which confronts the 
"C.I.D." and the General Staffs of the three Ser- 
vices is far more complicated and greater in range 
than the task which confronts any other Power. 
England has no single and constant objective, 
such as to defend a defined frontier against possible 
aggression by jealous neighbours. In the Far East, 
India, Egypt, Africa . . . the Empire has many 
vulnerable points; and British forces must be pre- 
pared to act at any time and in any one of a number 
of widely divided theatres, each demanding a different 
technique of defence. In fine, the task of any other 
Power may be said truthfully to be relatively simple 
compared with the British problem of Imperial 

The department of the General Staff at the War 


Office is the youngest, and at the same time the first 
and the senior, of the four Military Members' 
departments; and its Chief, by virtue of his position, 
is the senior soldier in the War Office. For the 
function of advising on military policy we should 
expect to find it organised for two inter-related 
spheres of work plans for the operations of our own 
forces, and information regarding possible * 'enemy" 
forces; and accordingly the first directorate is that of 
the "D.M.O. and I." Director of Military Opera- 
tions and Intelligence. There are two Operations 
("M.O.") branches and five Intelligence ("M.I.") 
branches; and one of the latter is a Geographical 
branch equipped with a staff for the construction of 
maps, while another deals with "Security" work 
Defence Security Intelligence is the title and the 
War Department Constabulary. The duties of the 
two groups are described officially as (i) "Advice 
as to the conduct of operations of war and orders in 
regard to military operations," and (2) "The col- 
lection and collation of military intelligence." The 
published details are discreetly vague. 

There are two other directorates, those of the 
Director of Staff Duties and the Director of Military 
Training, which, with the "D.M.O. and I.," com- 
plete the department of the General Staff; and per- 
haps an attempt to sketch their duties should begin 
by laying stress on the point that the work of all 
three directorates is very closely inter-connected. 
The business of "Organisation for war," which is 
one of the functions of Staff Duties, and the principles 


of Military Training, are subordinate aspects of 
policy, and are parts of the problem of Peace 
Strategy which fit into the whole picture as different 
pieces of the same puzzle. For co-ordination of Staff 
work generally the "D.S.D." is responsible. 

The first, then, of the main functions which fall 
to the Director of Staff Duties is the organisation of 
the forces for war. 

Only a few generations ago armies consisted of 
Cavalry and Infantry, a few guns and a host of 
camp-followers: to-day they are intricate organ- 
isations, completely provided in every direction. 
The complication of a modern army must strike 
the layman as almost fantastic. Besides Infantry a 
Division will contain Cavalry, Artillery, Engineers, 
Signals, Ammunition companies, Baggage companies, 
Supply companies, Field Ambulances, Hygiene sec- 
tions, Ordnance workshops, Veterinary sections, 
Provost companies and Postal units: to which must 
be added the Headquarters Staff, and again the 
Headquarters of each Brigade. If we consider an 
army of several Divisions, we may add Tank and 
Anti-Aircraft Defence units, to say nothing of Line 
of Communications troops with their Railway com- 
panies, their Ambulance trains, their Hospitals, 
their Remount depots, their Store depots and Base 
workshops, their Pay offices, and their Printing 
sections; and still we can add the Intelligence Corps 
and squadrons attached by the Royal Air Force 
without making the list complete. 

Further, for each different kind of campaign a 
different kind of force is required; and a change 
in the number of men and animals, or in the type 


of weapon or the kind of transport that is suitable 
to the particular case, will involve a mass of detailed 
changes in the supply and ammunition companies 
and every other supporting service. The proper 
proportion of the several arms, the ratio of guns 
to men, the best system of getting the stores to the 
troops, the nature and amount of transport re- 
quired, the rounds of ammunition or the quantity 
of food to be carried by the various units such 
questions as these in a modern Army will not be 
left to be judged on the field by a commander who, 
in a sound organisation, should be free for the 
work of directing operations. Every detail, in- 
cluding the Staff required and the precise functions 
of every member, must be worked out beforehand 
at the War Office; and the general principles must 
be fully understood: the Army must be trained in 
the system. Moreover each fighting-man is precious; 
mobility must not be hampered; financial con- 
siderations arise; and a hundred other points 
must be weighed in the composition of "war 
establishments/' The scheme, too, must be flexible, 
for the British Army has many roles, and the basic 
elements of the whole system must be readily adapt- 
able to varied conditions. Such, very briefly, are the 
types of problem which underlie "Organisation for 
war" as a primary aspect of Staff Duties. 

Closely allied with Organisation is the business of 
providing communication between the staffs and 
formations of a force in the field; and a separate 
branch of "Staff Duties' 1 is charged with this highly 
modernised work. 

An invention such as radio-telephony may in 


one sense simplify inter-communication, but each 
new step in the progress of science creates new 
problems both technical and tactical. The application 
to military uses of every means of "signalling," 
and the organisation for employment in the field 
of the technical troops (the Royal Corps of Signals), 
falls, in the sphere of policy, to this special branch 
of "Staff Duties" where the layman is lost in a 
strange country of oscillators, ohms and aerials. 
In its wider aspects "Signals policy" includes all 
means of communication that affect the Army 
throughout the Empire, including submarine cables, 
land-lines and "wireless," the last of which touches 
many interests and raises some very far-reaching 
problems. In fact, the work demands a close touch 
not only with the training of the troops and with the 
progress of research and design, but also with the 
requirements of other departments the Admiralty, 
the General Post Office and others. Co-ordination of 
"wireless" work is secured, as between the three 
Fighting Services, by means of a Wireless Telegraphy 
Board; and co-ordination in its wider aspect is 
effected, of course, through the "C.I.D." which 
possesses a special sub-committee for the purpose, 
familiarly known as the "I.C.C." (Imperial Com- 
munications Committee), on which nine depart- 
ments are represented. 

Turning for the moment from "Staff Duties," 
the next chief function of the General Staff is the 
training of the troops for war, and that is the concern 
of the third directorate, whose chief is the Director 
of Military Training (in War Office language "the 


Military training has two distinct aspects: the 
training of the individual soldier and collective 
training of the men in units. Generally speaking, 
individual training is carried out in the winter 
months. Every Infantry soldier fresh from the 
depot must be trained, for example, in the use of his 
weapons, in semaphore-signalling, anti-gas measures, 
map-reading, drill and the use of ground. All leaders 
of sections, platoons and companies must be trained 
to command and lead their men. Again, all officers 
and N.C.O.s must be trained in the various admini- 
strative duties which they will have to undertake 
both in peace and war, such as pay duties, court- 
martial procedure, the keeping of accounts, or the 
rules for billeting. Collective training the training 
of units is planned on a progressive system which 
proceeds through the year in clear-cut stages from 
early spring to late autumn: from platoon, company 
and battalion training to the higher formations 
brigades and divisions. 

The primary business of the local Commands is 
to train their troops to be fighting assets, and to 
gain experience in "higher command," the hand- 
ling of troops in masses, and the co-operation of 
the several arms, with a view to producing efficient 
leaders and a staff well trained in all departments. 
Accordingly, the detailed work of training is "de- 
centralised" from the War Office to the local com- 
manders; but, paradoxical as the statement sounds, 
the whole of the task is controlled by the War Office 
the special function of the "D.M.T." It is true 
that soldiers, much less leaders, cannot be produced 
by the reading of text-books ; but it is equally true 


that the unity of action which is essential to success 
in war can be secured only by uniformity of doctrine. 
In dealing with an army which may be called upon 
to fight under every condition of climate or ground, 
and in operations which may vary in scope from 
"Imperial policing" to a national war, the central 

L 1 O ' 

direction of the system of training assumes a cardinal 
importance, and this is the business of the "D.M.T." 
Just as in the sphere of organisation the principles 
are laid down by the General Staff in the classic 
volumes of Field Service Regulations, so from first to 
last the system and the detailed methods of training 
are laid down in the Training Regulations and the 
training manuals for the several arms prepared by 
this directorate. That is the initial step, and it is 
supplemented in various ways. The annual pro- 
grammes of local training are based on "schemes'* 
approved by the War Office, and the training is 
watched throughout the year by officers of the 
"M.T." branch and is also "reported on" by the 
Commands. In this way the experience gained from 
direct observation and local reports can be used in 
the preparation of annual instructions to govern the 
training of each new season, and these instructions 
or "Training Memoranda," which are issued each 
spring by the "C.I.G.S.," fulfil a number of functions 
at once : they pick up the points where improvement 
is needed; they announce decisions on questions of 
doubt which the local reports have brought to light; 
they prescribe the main programme of higher train- 
ing to be carried out by each Command; and they 
lay down the special problems to be solved and the 
trials to be made with experimental equipment in 


the course of the coming training-year. The Instruc- 
tions might prescribe, for example, that "the defence 
of villages" should be specially studied; that the 
Cavalry should experiment with a special machine 
gun, or the Infantry with a new type of tractor. 
The practice throughout is done by the Commands : 
the policy comes from the General Staff. 

Finally, there are the ' Exercises' ' which are carried 
out under direct supervision, and vary from a "battle- 
field tour" directed in person by the "C.I.G.S." to 
the final stage of collective training familiar to the 
public as "Army Manoeuvres." The schemes for 
War Office exercises for the training of the higher 
commanders and staffs form the culminating point 
of the work of "M.T."; but unfortunately the mass- 
ing of troops is expensive, and manoeuvres on a large 
scale tend to be few and far between. 

Inspectors of Cavalry, Royal Artillery, Royal 
Engineers, Royal Tank Corps and Royal Army Ser- 
vice Corps report direct to "D.M.T." on the training 
of their respective arms. There is also an Inspector 
of Fixed Defences. There is no Inspector-General 
of the Forces. That post, recommended by the Esher 
Committee, lapsed in 1914 on the outbreak of war. 
From 1904 to 1907 it was held by the Duke of 
Connaught, and from 1907 to 1912 by Sir John 
French. In 1912 the title was changed to Inspector- 
General of the Home Forces in consequence of the 
appointment (in 1910) of an Inspector-General of 
the Overseas Forces, the former being General Sir 
Charles Douglas (1912-1914) and the latter General 
Sir Ian Hamilton (1910-1914) who was also General 
Officer Commanding-in-Chief in the Mediterranean. 


The two offices were merged once more on August 
ist, 1914, when Sir John French resumed the ap- 
pointment, only to relinquish it four days later on 
assuming the command of the Expeditionary Force. 

Another function of training is the provision of 
instructors, which, so far as it falls to "D.M.T.," is 
attained through the medium of Schools of Instruc- 
tion. These schools hold courses for various purposes 
apart from that of producing instructors, but the 
central idea in all cases is the provision of up-to-date 
specialist training for selected officers and men. 
There are nine "schools for the Fighting Arms" 
which are named and situated as follows : The School 
of Equitation, at Weedon ; the School of Artillery, 
at Larkhill ; the Coast Artillery School, at Shoebury- 
ness ; the School of Military Engineering, at Chatham ; 
the School of Electric Lighting, at Portsmouth ; the 
Anti-Aircraft Defence School, at Biggin Hill; the 
School of Signals, at Catterick; the Royal Tank 
Corps Central Schools, at Lulworth and at Bovington 
Camp; and the Small Arms School with its three 
wings for Machine Gun, Small Arms and Anti-Gas 
training, at Netheravon, Hythe and Porton. The 
School of Physical Training, Aldershot, is also 
directed by the "D.M.T." 

The oldest of these very varied foundations is 
the School of Military Engineering, which was 
created after the experiences of the Peninsular War 
by a Royal Warrant of 1812. The predecessor of 
the Small Arms School was the School of Musketry 
it Hythe, founded in 1853 for the instruction of 
the troops in the use of a rifle the Enfield model 
introduced in that year. The first school for instruc- 


tion in gunnery was established at Shoeburyness in 


There is yet another large sphere of control which 
is shared between the two directorates of Staff Duties 
and Military Training. The generic heading is 
"Education/* but the term is at once too wide and 
too narrow. Being responsible for the policy of the 
provision of officers, the General Staff "fathers" the 
Officers' Training Corps, and controls the instruction 
at Woolwich and Sandhurst and the examination of 
candidates for commissions in the Army from the 
universities and other sources. To assist the provision 
of Commanding Officers it controls the training at 
the Senior Officers' School, at which some 120 
officers of field rank receive instruction every year. 
To provide officers for Staff appointments it directs 
and controls the work of the Staff College. The pro- 
fessional tests of officers for promotion, and the 
organisation of libraries, are further aspects of the 
"education" of officers; and finally there are the 
schools for boys, and a very effective organisation for 
the education of the soldier and his children. 

The history of the older establishments reveals 
quaint touches here and there. 

The first to be created was the Royal Military 
Academy in the year 1741. The need was set forth 
to King George II of furnishing instruction "for 
raw and inexperienced people belonging to the 
military branch of the Ordnance in the several 
parts of mathematics necessary to qualify them for 
the service of the Artillery and the business of the 


Engineers/' The Master-General of the Ordnance 
was authorised by royal warrant to set up a school 
at Woolwich Warren, fitting up a "convenient 
Room" and appointing "an able and skilful master." 
"A Great and Solemn Exercise of Artillery" was 
here to be performed once a year; and after 1746 
instruction in the work of the Laboratory was in- 
cluded. Students were to have "free leave to improve 
themselves in the art of fire working . . . and what- 
soever firework such Engineer, Officer, Bombardier, 
Cadet, Gunner, or Matross has made or fitted up, 
the Firemaster or his mate shall put the maker's name 
thereon before they are delivered into store, to the end 
that when they shall be tried, the Composer may have 
notice to see the merits or defects of his perform- 

The title "Royal Military Academy" was given 
in 1764, after which date it was reserved for cadets. 
The instruction was gratuitous; but after 1774 
the cadets had to pass a qualifying test, since 
some had been found not greatly advanced, being 
unacquainted with the rule of three. Subsequently, 
about 1783, the school was removed to Woolwich 
Common, and the sum of ; 18,000 was paid for Sir 
Gregory Page's house. Prior to the Crimean War 
the cadets, between 14 and 16 years old, were 
nominated by the Master-General of the Ordnance, 
and their studies lasted from three to five years; but 
the whole institution was completely re-organised as 
the result of a Commission in 1857 when the age of 
cadets for admission was raised, the period of resi- 
dence was shortened, and entrance was made com- 


Meanwhile the creation of a Royal Military 
College had been sanctioned by Parliament in 1801, 
the King giving a track of heath land, part of the 
Crown estate at Sandhurst, and telling the Commons 
that an establishment had been formed "under His 
Majesty's directions for promoting the study of 
Military Science, 11 It was primarily intended for 
candidates for the Line, and cadets, between the 
ages of 1 3 and 1 5, were admitted on the nomination 
of the Commander-in-Chief, and normally, when old 
enough, purchased commissions. Changes similar to 
those at Woolwich were made in 1858, and finally, 
after the abolition of Purchase, the rule was intro- 
duced in 1875 that commissions in the Cavalry and 
the Infantry should be granted solely by competition, 
as in the Artillery and the Engineers. 

At Sandhurst, however, there was a Senior Depart- 
ment, not for cadets but for serving officers, from 
which the Staff College ultimately grew. From 1 803 
onwards a small number of officers, at first 30 and 
then 15, were given instruction in mathematics, 
surveying, fortification, French and German. Moved 
by failures in the Crimea a Select Committee of 1 855 
recommended that officers who had so qualified 
should have a claim to Staff appointments; but the 
Staff College did not take actual shape until after 
1 870 when a Royal Commission under Lord Dufferin 
made exhaustive and famous reports on the whole 
subject of Military Education. A separate College 
was to be built, the students were to be increased to 
40, and the rule was laid down that Staff appoint- 
ments should be limited to officers who had passed 
through the Staff College, This is the general rule 


to-day; and as regards appointments to the General 
Staff the right to the initials "p.s.c." is, of course, 
indispensable. The number of officers at the modern 
Staff College averages 120, and includes students 
from India and the Dominions, and also from the 
Navy and the Royal Air Force. 

The .average number of cadets at Woolwich is 
now 185, and at Sandhurst about 510. The educa- 
tion given at all three establishments follows lines 
laid down by the General Staff. 

As regards the education of "other ranks, " this 
function of training has made great progress. There 
are 15,000 soldiers in the Army to-day who have 
earned a ist-class certificate of education, approxi- 
mately the equivalent of a Schools Certificate. Such a 
fact would have seemed as incredible as "wireless" to 
the famous Frederick, Duke of York, in whose far-off 
days there were serjeant-majors who could neither read 
nor write. It was this Duke who in 1 80 1 founded the 
"Royal Military Asylum" at Chelsea for giving free 
maintenance and education to soldiers' children, parti- 
cularly orphans and those whose fathers had died in the 
Service. The school was moved in 1 909 from Chelsea 
to Guston, near Dover, where "The Duke of York's 
Royal Military School" now holds about 400 boys. 

The story of the education of the soldier may also 
be said to date from the Duke, for the establishment 
of "regimental schools" for educating the boys of 
the regiment and the children of the married soldiers 
was due to his efforts as Commander-in-Chief. 
These schools were maintained by the Colonels 
of the regiments with Serjeants in charge as school- 
masters, and since no special qualifications were 


demanded of the teachers the instruction given was 
somewhat uncertain. Voluntary classes were held 
in the evenings which the grown-up soldier could 
attend if he wished, a monthly charge being made 
for the privilege. The next step, the formation of 
garrison libraries, is attributed to the zeal of Lord 
Hill, who had been one of Wellington's generals 
and was known to the Army as "Daddy Hill"; but 
the first real progress in the education of the soldier 
must be credited to "the born reformer." 

Sidney Herbert, on becoming Secretary-at-War 
(1846), found the regimental schools so sadly in- 
efficient that he set to work to provide trained 
masters, and set up at Chelsea a "Normal School" to 
provide an example of a model school and to train 
students to be Army schoolmasters. The manage- 
ment of Army schools was placed in the charge of 
the Chaplain-General, and an order in the name of 
the Duke of Wellington of loth April, 1849, com- 
pelled all recruits to attend school for two hours 
daily, and to pay fees, until proficient. A little later 
(1857) progress justified a general rule that no 
soldier could be promoted corporal who was not at 
least tolerably proficient in reading, writing and 
arithmetic. The fees disappeared in 1864. Then the 
Dufferin Commission of 1870 thoroughly revised 
the whole system, and Army schools passed into the 
charge of a Director-General of Military Education 
responsible to the Secretary of State. In those days 
there were four certificates, and attendance at school 
was compulsory until a soldier secured the lowest of 
these : this amount of compulsory education remained 
in force until 1887. 


The modern scheme started in 1920 with the 
formation of the Army Educational Corps and a 
school at Shorncliffe for training instructors. The 
recruit is now educated by trained teachers to earn a 
certificate (3rd class) before he leaves the depot to 
join a unit. After that point education is voluntary, 
but a soldier does not earn "proficiency pay" until 
he has secured his "2nd class/* and this rule is a 
potent spur to attainment since 3d. a day depends 
on the effort! The numbers who gain "ist-class" 
certificates, which are necessary for promotion to 
Warrant rank, are an indication of the high standard 
that is required in the modern Army for the higher 
non-commissioned ranks. As to children's schools, 
the modern policy is to hand over the education of 
children to local authorities wherever possible, and 
only to maintain schools in this country where civil 
facilities are not available. A point which is frequently 
raised in Parliament is whether in all this Army work 
touch is maintained with the Board of Education. 
"The answer is in the affirmative." 

A special Scottish establishment, a counterpart to 
the Duke of York's School, is the Queen Victoria 
School at Dunblane, which was built and equipped 
by public subscription as a memorial to Queen 
Victoria in the year 1905. 

This sketch of the duties of a large department 
does not pretend to be exhaustive. It can only 
indicate the main spheres of work, and the grouping 
of these under the three Directors is shown, for the 
convenience of the reader, in the form of a diagram 


attached. The General Staff at the War Office com- 
prises some 90 serving officers; while the military 
and civilian clerks, and the staff for translation, maps, 
and printing number about 1 60. 

The number of officers has been criticised often ; 
but in this respect the General Staff is in a particu- 
larly vulnerable position, for "policy" is a vague 
word, and "the thinking department" is a vulner- 
able title. Actually, any new military proposal, even 
as small as an alteration of uniform, may involve 
some aspect of General Staff work, and the General 
Staff has the leading voice in the settlement of 
priority of importance as between the host of new 
proposals which compete with each other every 
year for the limited funds at the disposal of the 
Council. But the paramount task, which is clearly 
a vast one, is that of ensuring throughout the 
Empire that similarity in organisation, in training, 
and in education which alone can result in efficient 
Defence. If the tendency of modern conditions is 
to leave little room for genius in the field, then 
efficiency of organisation must become the determin- 
ing factor in war: and that is the task of the Imperial 
General Staff which is focussed in the first of the 
Military Departments. 

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Chapter VII 

THE second military division of the War Office is 
the department of the Adjutant-General to the 

The title " Adjutant-General" is of considerable 
antiquity. In Cromwell's New Model Army there 
were three such officers, two of the Horse and one 
of the Foot. The post was added to the standing 
Army in the year 1673, an d after being dropped in 
1675 was continued again from 1680 onwards. In 
that astonishing eighteenth century when the Army 
fought with such vast success in building up the 
British Empire and the King commanded the Army 
in peace, there were two chief military officers who 
handled orders received from the Sovereign through 
the office of the Secretary-at-War; and of these one 
was the Adjutant-General. In 1779 his sma ll office 
occupied two rooms in Crown Street, Westminster, 
and his peace functions, so far as they are known, 
were confined to the issue of Orders and Regula- 

It is not until 1793 that he comes into greater 
prominence. Throughout that century, as we have 
seen, the policy of Parliament was to scatter the 
forces in small commands and to entrust their com- 
mand as a whole in peace-time to no one person other 
than the Sovereign. Perhaps Parliament remembered 


that essay of Bacon in which "trainings of men and 
arming them in several places and under several 
commanders' ' are recommended as measures of 
safety in dealing with things such as "men of warre." 
In any case, one unfortunate result was that the 
selection and promotion of officers was frequently a 
matter of political influence. In discussing the Esti- 
mates of 1792 Mr. Fox called the attention of the 
House of Commons to the dismissal of officers for 
reasons of politics, and on the outbreak'of the war 
with France, when occasion was taken to remedy 
matters by reviving the post of Commander-in-Chief, 
the Adjutant-General came to the front as one of 
the officers of the Chief's staff. 

Under the system inaugurated by the Duke of 
York the office became more important, regulations 
being issued to all the forces laying down a uniform 
system of discipline, and the returns of strength, 
which hitherto had been few and inaccurate, being 
largely increased and carefully prepared "that the 
information required by Parliament might be 
supplied through the Adjutant-General's depart- 
ment with accuracy."* When recruiting was added 
to the duties of the office, its expenses for the half 
year which ended in June, 1808, reached a total 
of M37 is. id. 

From that time onwards the "Adjutant-General of 
the Forces" was a principal officer of "the Military 
Department" which carried out the duties of the 
Commander-in-Chief. In the Stanhope reforms of 
1887-8 he was recognised as the principal assistant 
to the Chief, with a general control over the military 

* Note 12, page 344. 


branches; and finally in 1895, un der Lord Lans- 
downe's re-organisation, the "A.-G.'s" department 
attained a separate entity as one of the principal 
divisions of the War Office. In those days it was 
charged with the discipline, the education and the 
training of the troops, with recruiting and dis- 
charges, and with patterns of clothing; but under the 
reforms of the Esher Committee it assumed the 
duties which it now discharges, except that the control 
of the Auxiliary Forces, then placed under the 
Adjutant-General, has since been removed to a 
different charge. 

The Esher Reports were most explicit. "The 
proper functions, 7 ' they said, "of an Adjutant- 
General comprise the raising and maintenance of 
the military forces, discipline, drafts, reliefs, estab- 
lishments, and all that relates to the care of the 
soldier in peace and war." By "maintenance" the 
Committee meant maintenance in men, and these 
"proper functions" are closely followed in the organ- 
isation as it exists to-day. The business of the 
Adjutant-General is principally concerned with 
"men," or in Army phrase with "personnel," and 
the department consists of three sub-divisions the 
directorate of Recruiting and Organisation, the 
directorate of Personal Services, and the department 
of Army Medical Services, whose head is a Director- 

# * # # 

The first task of the Adjutant-General is in- 
adequately described as "Organisation," which in 
turn is closely bound up with Recruiting and is dealt 
with by the same Director. 


Just as the General Staff take the lead in the 
organisation of the Army for war, so the organ- 
isation of the forces in peace is predominantly the 
business of the Adjutant-General. The phrase 
"Peace Organisation" has a simple sound, but 
the task involved is in fact the pursuit of an end- 
less problem in economy which, from the point of 
view of the layman, seems to call for that craft and 
tireless patience which distinguish the solver of 
jig-saw puzzles. The central problem of "Organisa- 
tion" is to settle the "Peace Establishments" of the 
Army : in other words to settle the number of men, 
in every arm and service and in every rank, who 
must be kept with the colours each year in peace. 

The Army in peace has two functions : one, some- 
times described as "policing the Empire," being that 
of providing the garrisons abroad, which must be kept 
always at the strength requisite for immediate action 
in local defence; while the other is to hold in readi- 
ness at home, and to be able to place in the field 
quickly, a Field Force of a given size. Now, 
the normal soldier serves with the colours for a part 
only of his term of enlistment: he serves with the 
colours for (say) seven years and then in the Reserve 
for (say) five years. Thus the task of the War Office is 
complicated by the fact that 25,000 men, on an 
average, are lost to the colours every year by the 
flow to the Reserve and by normal wastage. At the 
same time the system is economical, for to pay and 
maintain as serving Regulars the full number of men 
required for discharging both of the functions of 
the Army would be an extremely expensive method, 
as well as being unnecessary; and in times of "finan- 


cial stringency," when the Estimates are condemned 
to forcible slimming, all needless costs must be 

The economy of the Reserve is obvious. The 
task of improving our military efficiency by keep- 
ing pace with modern developments, of which 
mechanisation provides one example, demands money 
at every stage; and this means that the ordinary 
maintenance costs (pay, food, clothing and so on) 
must be kept at the lowest possible figure. The 
reservist is relatively inexpensive: he costs some ji6 
a year, while an Infantry private serving with the 
colours costs over jioo a year. Clearly one means 
of saving money is to supplement the numbers 
serving with the colours with the maximum possible 
number of reservists. Again, any reasonable scheme 
for a Field Force must allow of an interval be- 
tween "zero hour" and the despatch of at least a 
part of the force; and a second plan, if this interval 
permits, is to train men after mobilisation who are 
not required as "Regulars" in peace. This is prac- 
ticable in certain categories: for example, it is prac- 
ticable in the case of the men whose technical 
training in civil life would enable them to be used as 
soldiers at once or after a very short preparation. 
The Royal Army Service Corps, to quote an instance, 
employs soldier-tradesmen of twenty-five trades. The 
use of a special type of reservist was a feature of the 
Haldane proposals, which contemplated using Militia 
artillerymen as drivers for ammunition columns that 
formed part of his Striking Force ; and the Supple- 
mentary Reserve of to-day includes a category of 
officers and men who do no training at all in peace, 


their allotted duties on mobilisation being their 
technical duties in civil life. Here, then, is a second 
means of economy. 

In fine, to ensure the maximum saving, a minute 
scrutiny of every type of unit, of every trade and of 
every rank, would settle the minimum number of 
men who must be kept with the colours in time of 
peace (i.e. serving soldiers on full pay) to enable each 
unit to mobilise in war not forgetting, of course, its 
peace-time functions. The unit must be large enough 
to train efficiently, and also to provide its annual quota 
of trained drafts for the garrisons abroad; but, with 
these limitations, its " peace establishment" can be 
fixed at the minimum number of soldiers which, duly 
increased by its quotas of reservists and possibly of 
post-mobilisation recruits, will place the unit on a 
war footing. 

That is the background, so to speak, against which 
the detailed task is set to organise every type of 
unit, every staff and depot and school and institution 
to be fit for its functions at minimum cost. If con- 
ditions were static the work would be limited, but 
the Heraclitean doctrine of flux is painfully true of 
modern conditions. Nothing is stabilised: everything 
changes. In practice the heading "Organisation" 
should be amended to read "Re-organisation." A 
scheme to mechanise first-line transport is applied, 
for example, to the Cavalry regiment and involves, 
incidentally, Ordnance workshops: a change in the 
role of the Tank Battalion entirely alters its com- 
position : the introduction of a new weapon means 
the re-organisation of Infantry units. Other obvious 
examples of new needs are provided by modern 


signalling methods in the sphere of "wireless" and air 
co-operation. The tendency of this type of change is 
to increase requirements in trained experts, and a 
ceaseless search for balancing economies is, in fact, 
compulsory. Since other military branches are con- 
cerned, and also the Finance branches, all alterations 
in Peace Establishments are considered by a special 
standing committee. 

This side of the business of "Organisation" is 
linked closely with the parallel task of finding the 
necessary number of men. As regards reservists, the 
size of the Reserve for any Arm can be regulated in 
several ways. For example, the terms of service can 
be changed : for terms which prescribe, say, 4 years 
with the Colours and 8 in the Reserve will, if altered 
to terms of 3 years and 9, produce in due course a 
larger reserve. Again, Section D of the Army Re- 
serve, which consists of a number of men who have 
served for 1 2 years but are allowed to continue, can 
be closed or opened for any Arm. The supplementing 
of the Reserve proper in certain classes of troops, 
mainly technical trades, is managed by means of the 
Supplementary Reserve, which is based on the 
system of short annual training (or in some cases no 
training at all) and the payment of annual gratuities 
or bounties in return for the liability of the officers 
and men to be called out on service on mobilisation. 
Railway troops, motor-drivers, clerks for Pay Corps 
offices and mechanical engineers are typical classes; 
and since the numbers to be maintained in all cases 
depend upon mobilisation requirements, all reserves 
must be constantly watched. 

Turning to the Recruiting side, the work of 


recruiting the Regular Army involves the enlistment 
every year of about twenty-five thousand men. 

The history of recruiting has points of interest. In 
theory compulsory enlistment ceased for ever in the 
year 1640, but in practice methods amounting to 
impressment were employed frequently after that 
date. In the century which followed the Revolution 
recruiting was carried out by the colonels of regi- 
ments, a sum for each man being received from the 
Crown to cover pay and the cost of clothes and re- 
cruitment, which was credited to a " Stock Purse 
Fund" and the balance divided at the end of the year 
between the senior officers of the regiment. Incident- 
ally, the function of the officials with the strange name 
of "Commissaries of Musters" was to watch that the 
Crown was not cheated in this matter; that the men 
for whom the allowance was paid existed in the flesh 
and not merely on paper: a precaution which was 
highly necessary, since servants were frequently 
dressed up for the occasion to act the part of the 
missing numbers. 

To raise recruits was no easy matter, for the 
pay was low, the housing was execrable, and the 
discipline was extremely severe, so that every 
sort of expedient was employed to entice the yokel 
into Army service. One of the most important 
functions of the Secretary-at-War in the eighteenth 
century was to protect the civilian who claimed to have 
been "pressed." Again, in the event of emergency, 
which was frequent, when the Army, always kept 
at a minimum, suddenly had to be increased largely, 
conscription limited to certain classes was used as a 
definite policy. Throughout the eighteenth century 


criminals and paupers were impressed for the wars : 
in fact, the recruiting policy of those days, whether 
an emergency was threatening or not, was to fill the 
ranks with the cheapest labour at the lowest possible 
cost to the State. 

The normal enlistment was held to be for life 
or for so long as the Crown required the man's 
service, and a soldier could only obtain his dis- 
charge as a result of a bargain with his Commanding 
Officer. Short-term or * duration of war" enlist- 
ment was employed exceptionally, in the event of a 
crisis, when extra men were required quickly. Par- 
liament liked short-term enlistment. The policy 
was to get rid of the soldiers as soon as the par- 
ticular war was over; and after 1783, when Burke's 
Act abolished the Stock Purse Fund and recruiting, 
except in the case of the Guards, was undertaken by 
the Government, spasmodic attempts were made in 
the House to introduce the principle of short service 
as the general rule for the Army in peace. "Life" 
enlistment, however, remained the normal practice 
until half way through the nineteenth century. In 
1847 an Act was passed introducing a limit of 10 
or 12 years with a contingent claim to re-engagement 
to complete a period of 2 1 years. The modern system 
of short-term service, spent partly with the Colours 
and partly in the Reserve, was started in 1870 by 
Card well's Army Enlistment Act. The periods, but 
not the principle, have since been changed frequently. 
Normal service to-day in the Infantry of the Line is 
for 7 years with the Colours and 5 in the Reserve: 
the terms vary for the several Arms. 

In the House of Commons in April, 1934, the 


opinion was voiced that the life of the soldier in the 
Army to-day is painted in far too glamorous colours: 
that in actual fact it is dull and drab. If this is true, 
the percentage of recruits who leave civil employ- 
ment in order to enlist becomes a truly astounding 
figure. A corporal in the Army to-day is paid a mini- 
mum qf 3 is. 6d. a week, receives free facilities for 
education, plentiful games, good food and clothes, 
decent housing, free medical attendance and a cer- 
tain measure of free insurance. A further fact that 
is not, perhaps, known generally is that thirty 
vacancies at Woolwich and Sandhurst are reserved 
every year for "ranker" cadets who receive free 
training as potential officers. It is no part of the 
policy of the War Office to make promises which it 
cannot fulfil. 

In older days the intake of recruits was increased 
by lowering the standards required ; but the modern 
policy is to keep these high and rely on the Army's 
"drawing power" supplemented by a new system 
which has increased the number of recruiting 
centres and has placed a Chief Recruiting Officer 
at the disposal of each Area Commander. The 
Commands are organised in recruiting "zones," and 
the work is as far as possible local; but the control 
and adjustment of the whole machine, which now 
includes an Inspector of Recruiting, is a function 
of "D.R.O." at the War Office. The problem of to- 
day is one of quality. A high standard of quality in 
recruits is not only necessary to the modern Army, 
but is definitely economical. Less money is wasted 
in training recruits who prove later on to be useless 
to the Army. 


This joint directorate has eight branches. One 
is the Recruiting branch; and another has the 
special duty of watching the "mobilisation" problem 
from the point of view of preparedness, particularly 
in its man-power aspect. The functions common to 
most of the rest, apart from the question of Peace 
Establishments, relate to postings and transfers, 
the distribution of units, the finding of drafts for 
units abroad, and the annual programme of changes 
of station. The general principle of the "Trooping" 
programme, which will be mentioned again in 
another connection, is to combine fairness to units 
with economy to the State. It aims at so distribut- 
ing service overseas that no unit shall remain too 
long where the climate or training facilities are 

The number of branches is due to the fact that 
they deal with nine separate arms or corps. One 
acts as "co-ordinator," and possesses a section with 
the endless task of compiling the necessary statistics 
of strength of each and every part of the Army, 
including the duty of intelligent guessing at probable 
strengths at future dates. 

An interesting institution with which the 
"D.R.O." is concerned from the point of view of 
"finding the men" is the Army Technical School 
for boys. Situated at Beachley, near Chepstow, this 
school holds some seven hundred boys, who are 
trained to be blacksmiths, carpenters, fitters, elec- 
tricians, masons and other "tradesmen"; thus 
assisting to meet a constant need. 

* * * * 

The second division of "A.G." business is con- 


trolled by the Director of Personal Services, whose 
first function is Discipline. 

By the law of England a man who joins the Army, 
whether he joins as an officer or a soldier, remains 
subject in general to the ordinary law; but he be- 
comes subject also to another code, entirely distinct, 
known as "military law/' which governs all the 
members of the Army and regulates their conduct as 
such at all times and places in peace and in war.* 

The object of this special code is twofold : to pro- 
vide for discipline, for which purpose acts such as 
disobedience must be made punishable offences; and 
to provide for such administrative matters as terms 
of service, enlistment, discharge and billeting. Such 
military law is not "martial law" in the proper sense 
of that loosely-used phrase. "Martial law" in its 
proper sense means the suspension of ordinary law 
and the government of a country by military tri- 
bunals a method which is employed in some foreign 
countries, when a grave riot or war is threatened, by 
a simple declaration on the part of the Government 
that the country is in "a state of siege." As far as the 
British Army is concerned, one can use the phrase 
properly, if somewhat loosely, of the law imposed in 
an enemy country by the commander of forces in 
occupation; but "martial law" in its strict sense, in 
which it suspends the ordinary law, could only be 
established in this country by a special Act of 
Parliament. Exceptional measures, such as placing 
a district under military control, can be taken by the 
Crown under common-law right, if the circumstances 
warrant such action; but the ordinary law is not 

* Note 13, page 344. 



thereby suspended. When military control in cases 
of that kind is called "martial law/' the term is being 
used in a general sense. The strict meaning is men- 
tioned here in order to avoid confusion, for in earlier 
days 4< martial law" was used to cover a multitude of 

Rules for enforcing discipline in the field were 
necessary from early times, since the armies were 
frequently fighting abroad where the civil law did 
not apply. Such rules, which later were called 
"Articles of War/* were issued under the authority 
of the King, and ceased to operate when peace was 
concluded. They were issued, for instance, byRichard 
II; by Henry V for his wars with France; and by 
Charles I to please himself. This last was an attempt 
to use "martial law" at the will of the Crown /";/ time 
of peace^ and as such was strongly resented by the 
Commons and declared to be illegal in the Petition 
of Right. But when after the Restoration the King 
was allowed to have "Guards and Garrisons" the 
necessity for a standing code of military discipline 
was obvious, and Charles II had to issue Articles of 
War which in time of peace were really illegal. The 
earlier codes had been very severe, but in these post- 
Restoration Articles the death penalty was expressly 
reserved; and only the consequent laxity of discipline 
forced the hand of the Commons at last to legalise a 
peace-time code. 

Even then, in 1689, the Mutiny Act was purely 
temporary and required renewal every year to 
legalise military law in peace: in fact, with the 
exception of certain short intervals Mutiny Acts 
were passed annually from 1690 to 1879. At the 


latter date the Mutiny Act contained no clauses, 
and the Articles of War, which still existed but had 
long since been made statutory, numbered 192. 
Naturally very few officers could understand such 
intricate codes, and a single Act was passed in that 
year to comprise the whole body of military law. It 
was re-named the Army Act in 1 8 8 1 . 

An interesting feature of the debates in the 
Commons in 1879 was the defeat of a proposal to 
abolish flogging by a margin of 106 votes. Flogging 
was abolished three years later. As regards the 
death penalty, the present restriction is a develop- 
ment of the post-war years. Since legislation of 1930 
the death penalty is confined in peace to mutiny and 
sedition, and on active service to mutiny and sedi- 
tion and certain treacherous offences. 

The Army Act, then, as amended from time to 
time by the annual Act which gives it sanction, is 
the present code of discipline which, supplemented 
by the King's Regulations, is administered by the 
Adjutant-General. The great bulk of questions of 
discipline are naturally matters for settlement locally, 
but major cases, and all which present unusual 
features, are sent up to the War Office. 

Military offences requiring trial are, of course, 
tried by courts-martial, whose far-off and romantic 
origin was the Court of Chivalry of the Middle Ages. 
Even with the present high standard of conduct 
district courts-martial at home and in the colonies 
number, roughly, a thousand a year, and a great 
deal of "Personal Services" work consists in examin- 
ing the major cases, from the point of view of 
remission of sentence and of Army discipline 


generally. From the point of legality all courts- 
martial are reviewed automatically by an independent 
civil official, the Judge Advocate General to the 
Forces, who is appointed by special Letters Patent 
as official adviser to the Secretary of State on the 
administration of military law. General courts- 
martial are few, of course; but since they concern 
very grave offences they normally require to be 
confirmed by the King, from whom all the powers 
of courts-martial derive, and accordingly they come 
to the Army Council. Similarly, since every officer 
of the Army is entitled under the Army Act to enter 
an appeal for redress of grievance not only to the 
Council but also to the Sovereign, appeals which 
involve any question of discipline are considered first 
by the Adjutant-General before they are examined by 
the Army Council and report is made, in the latter 
case, through the Secretary of State to His Majesty. 
The question has been known to be asked whether 
these appeals really reach the King. His Majesty not 
only sees the appeal but approves the decision with 
his own hand. 

Among more ordinary "discipline" cases may be 
mentioned desertions, fraudulent enlistments, and 
courts of inquiry into losses by fire; and a fairly 
extensive sphere of work concerns military prisons 
and detention barracks. The sentence of imprison- 
ment can be passed only by courts-martial, and 
soldiers sentenced for military offences are sent to 
the special military prisons which exist at Aldershot, 
Stirling and Cairo. A Commanding Officer is not 
allowed to sentence a man to more than "detention," 
which is carried out in Detention Barracks. This 


latter punishment was introduced to avoid the stigma 
attached to imprisonment when soldiers are con- 
victed of military offences which do not warrant 
discharge from the Army. 

A special side of "Personal Services'* is to repre- 
sent the interests of the soldier, particularly on ques- 
tions of pay and the like; and the military "case" on 
these subjects is focussed in this directorate. 

The interests of the soldier are manifold, and this 
duty consequently has a wide range. At one end of 
the scale is the pursuit of the tradition associated with 
the Duke of Cambridge, and later with Lord Roberts 
when Commander-in-Chief, of removing what may 
be called "pin-pricks" those regulations or cus- 
tomary rules which are found by the experience of 
commanding officers to be avoidable sources of irri- 
tation to the Army. At the other end of the scale is 
the important work of providing civil employment 
for the soldier when he leaves the Colours. Here the 
War Office acts in two ways: in one, by providing 
Training Centres where soldiers in the last few 
months of their service are made competent workers 
in civil trades; in another, by assisting the voluntary 
work of placing ex-soldiers in actual employment. 
This question is not an easy one. Some 3,000 men 
leave the Colours each year who have served in the 
Army in a specialised trade such as "wireless," 
motor-driving or music ; but a problem is created by 
the thousands of others who would be thrown on the 
market as unskilled labour unless some special steps 
were taken to enhance their prospects of civil em- 
ployment. Work of this kind on a small scale was 
done regimentally in pre-war days, but large schemes 


came into being in the long period of * 'demobilis- 
ation " when the war-time soldiers were being dis- 
charged, and finally in 1923 the task was taken in 
hand by the War Office and "vocational training" 
was made official .j 

There are now three Vocational Training Centres, 
at Chisledon in Wiltshire, Hounslow and Aldershot, 
which can take about fourteen hundred students, 
the normal course being for six months. The 
building trades, the engineering trades, poultry 
and pig-keeping, dairy tanning the soldier can 
choose from a varied selection and is thus given 
the opportunity of equipping himself with a civil 
trade. In the twelve months ending on September 
3<Dth, 1934, 2,536 men were trained, of whom 
2,198 proceeded direct into skilled occupations. 
This War Office scheme is in one sense unique; for 
probably there exists no other employer who allows 
his men to be struck off the work for which they are 
paid for a period of six months and to devote that 
time to improving their prospects. 

Nor does the work end there. Ever since the 
days of Cardwell the early discharge of the short- 
service soldier has created this civil-employment 
problem, and the work of the voluntary organisa- 
tions was in full swing before the war. The society 
now called the National Association for Employment 
of Regular Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen, and the 
Soldiers* and Sailors' Help Society, were familiar 
pre-war institutions; but the modern development 
is wider in scope. Every unit in these days has 
its own Regimental Association which finds work 
for its own members and supports the National 


Association; the British Legion gives further help 
through its 3,500 branches; a preference is given to 
ex-Service men in filling many posts in Government 
service; and finally, since 1932, soldiers are regis- 
tered with the Employment Exchanges and the 
organisation of the Ministry of Labour is joined as 
a helpful and powerful ally with the work of the 
regiments and the voluntary schemes. To negotiate 
all these arrangements, to keep the Army informed 
of the opportunities offered, and to supervise both 
sides of the work, Vocational Training and "job"- 
finding are tasks which fall to the "D.P.S." 

"Personal Services" are miscellaneous, for they 
include the nomination of Garrison Adjutants, ques- 
tions of leave and of medical boards, the precedence 
of units, regimental honours, the award of medals 
and ceremonial. One curious entry in the list of 
duties consists of the simple phrase "The Word," 
which refers to the selection every three months, and 
the secret announcement to those concerned, of a 
pass-word of great import. In theory no person 
without this pass-word could gain access to the King's 
palace or "the Royal Palace and Fortress of the Tower 
of London," and accordingly "The Word" has been 
duly changed and solemnly announced to the House- 
hold Troops and the Constable of the Tower for the 
past two hundred and fifty years ever since, in 
fact, King Charles II deemed it wise to take some 
little precautions in the matter of nightly visitors. 
This small concession to the picturesque is distin- 
guished in a prosaic era by possessing no strikingly 
practical value. 

Questions of regimental Distinctions have, of 


course, a real importance. Honorary Distinctions 
take various forms.* Perhaps the best known 
are Battle Honours consisting in the name of 
an action or a campaign- the earliest is "Tangier 
1662-80" and Badges, of which the first to be 
granted was "The Lion of Nassau" of William III. All 
claims to Distinctions are weighed with great care 
and awards are submitted for the King's approval; 
for a platitude which is particularly true of His 
Majesty's Imperial Forces is that sentiment plays a 
very valuable part in the fostering of esprit de corps. 
Alliances between Dominion and Home units 
form another item in this type of work; and the busi- 
ness involved in the award of Medals is large enough 
even at this date, after the lapse of fifteen years since 
the Great War medals began to be issued, to occupy 
a special section. Enquiries for medals are still 
voluminous : every mention in the Press of the War 
medals brings a train of applications of all kinds. 
Many who served only at home write to apply for a 
Home Service medal ; others claim for wars of half 
a century ago; others write to say that their ancestors 
fought in the Peninsula or in the Crimea, or in 
Bechuanaland in '84 a campaign for which no 
medal was issued. The checking of claims is the chief 
work ; and this extends to the current issues of Long 
Service medals and Efficiency medals, to claims to the 
award of campaign pensions, which depend on the 
possession of a war medal, and to the annual crop of 
appeals, genuine and otherwise, for forfeited medals 
to be restored or for lost medals to be replaced. 
Moreover, new awards of medals have been made 

* For further details see Note 14, page 344. 


since 1918 for minor campaigns or expeditions 
numbering no less than eighteen. There was a time 
shortly after the War when the Medal branch, then 
very large, was dealing with 30,000 medals a day, 
and the following figures may be of interest as 
showing the size of the work carried out : for at that 
time complaints were loud regarding the swollen 
staffs at the War Office. 

There were issued, beginning in the year 1919, 
and excluding the issues made in bulk to the 
Dominions : 

1914 Stars .. .. .. 366,200 

Clasps to the 1914 Star . . 150,000 

1914-15 Stars .. .. .. 2,083,000 

British War Medals . . . . 5,700,000 

Victory Medals . . . . 5,145,000 

Territorial Force War Medals . . 340,000 

For Gallant and Meritorious Service 

Military Crosses . . . . 41,000 
Distinguished Conduct Medals 33,000 
Military Medals . . . . 129,000 
Meritorious Service Medals . . 29,000 
Emblems for Mentions in De- 
spatches . . . . . . 126,000 

The ribbon attached to these Stars and Medals 
would stretch for over 2,000 miles; and the card- 
index for the Great War contains more than 
8,000,000 names. 

Finally, as an apanage of Ceremonial, the "D.P.S." 
deals with military bands, and the administrationfof 
Kneller Hall, the Royal Military School of Music. 


The question of the engagement of military bands 
for concert work in their spare time was once a sore 
parliamentary subject, and is governed by very pre- 
cise rules framed to prevent unfair competition ; but 
the dominant factor in the situation is neither military 
nor political but that powerful person "the man in 
the street, " who insists on demanding military 

The atmosphere of ancient tradition which per- 
vades the sphere of Ceremonial is signally and very 
properly absent from the last of the "A.-G.'s" three 
directorates, the department of Army Medical Ser- 

No contrast with old-time Army methods is 
stronger than that presented to-day by the modern 
medical organisation. In the "enlightened" eigh- 
teenth century, both during and after Marlborough's 
campaigns, arrangements for attending the sick and 
wounded in the field were still in so elementary a 
stage that Sir John Pringle, the Physician-General at 
the time of Fontenoy, was one of the first to organise 
hospital work outside the individual regiment. Even 
as late as the Peninsular War the service was almost 
purely regimental. Every regiment had its surgeon 
and surgeon's mate, and these looked after their 
own sick and wounded whether in regimental or 
general hospitals. 

The real trouble of these earlier days was that 
the Medical Department was merely a staff, 
separated as usual from other Army departments 
and administering no medical corps. The medical 


officers of each regiment had no trained subordinate 
staff nor any special medical transport: the men who 
attended the wounded in hospital were fighting 
soldiers withdrawn from the line, and the officers had 
to improvise transport by borrowing carts as best 
they could. Sir James M'Grigor, Director-General 
from 1815 to 1851, was a famous figure who urged 
reform, but very little was done to improve matters; 
and when the Crimean crisis came, where the general 
hospitals were far from the front on the farther side 
of the Black Sea, the regimental system broke down 
completely. As soon as the expedition was contem- 
plated a Hospital Conveyance Corps was organised 
for bringing the wounded from the field to the 
hospitals and providing nursing and war attendants ; 
but it consisted mainly of aged pensioners, an un- 
trained and drunken crowd whom the Medical staff 
had no power to control, and conditions were ren- 
dered still more hopeless by the fatal separation of the 
several departments, each terrified of responsibility, 
who were charged with supplying essential needs. 
Food, medicines and medical stores might all be 
ordered but never delivered; or, if delivered, were 
unsuitable; or, if suitable, were inadequate in 
quantity. From this tragic chaos the Army was 
delivered by the brain and the heart and the will of 
a woman. 

The efficient modern medical system with its 
trained and well-equipped nursing service owes its 
first beginning to a chance meeting in the winter of 
1847. Sidney Herbert, lately Secretary-at-War, was 
spending a holiday in Rome when he met and recog- 
nised genius in the young Miss Florence Nightingale. 


Seven years later, once more in office and shocked 
by The Times reports from the front, he wrote and 
asked for her expert help, and tore his way through 
a mass of red tape, of official objection and military 
prejudice, to despatch Miss Nightingale and forty 
nurses to the terrible scenes of the wards at Scutari. 
We are not concerned here with the gentle picture 
of "The Lady with the Lamp" whom the soldier 
worshipped, but with the clear brain of the "passion- 
ate statistician" who, asked by the Secretary of State 
for advice, replied in a book of 800 pages* which 
proved beyond possibility of rebuttal that 10,053 
British soldiers died from disease in seven months, 
after quite unnecessary suffering, through a mixture 
of apathy and muddle. "I stand at the altar of the 
murdered men, and while I live I fight their cause," 
wrote Florence Nightingale in her private notes ; and 
helped by the Queen, by Sidney Herbert as Secretary 
of State, and by all progressive officers of the Army, 
Miss Nightingale fulfilled her promise. Her "Notes" 
were not merely critical: they contained complete 
constructive proposals for improving the health and 
the care of the soldier. Indeed, she devoted her life 
to this purpose. 

The Royal Commission of 1858 on "The Sanitary 
Conditions of the Army," which Miss Nightingale 
inspired and Sidney Herbert controlled, started a 
steady march of progress. The more immediate re- 
sults were the improvement of barracks, the better 
planning of hospital buildings, the introduction of 
women nurses, the allotment of transport to the 
Medical Service, the raising of the pay and status of 

*Note 15, page 345- 


the officers, and the foundation of an Army Medical 
School. The next great change was made by Card- 
well in the year 1873. Regimental hospitals were now 
abolished and with them the regimental system, and 
gradually from this time onwards the corps of 
medical subordinate ranks, which was started in 
1855 wit* 1 ^ title "The Army Hospital Corps," 
was assimilated with the Medical Department. 

The red-letter day in this story was June 23rd, 
1898, when a royal warrant issued by Queen Victoria 
created the Royal Army Medical Corps with the 
ranks and titles of the fighting Arms. From the 
tragedy of the Crimean hospitals arose a corps which 
in four years dealt with two millions of wounded 
men on the western front in the Great War, and 
carried six millions of wounded and sick in ambulance 
trains from the front to the base. The present estab- 
lishment of the R.A.M.C. is 526 officers and some 
3,300 other ranks; and the health of the Army is so 
much considered that 120 Dental officers are em- 
ployed to look after the soldiers' teeth. Full and in- 
teresting statistics are contained every year in the 
published Report on the Health of the Army y which is 
on sale. There are 45 military hospitals proper, of 
which 1 7 are at stations abroad, and the largest are 
at Netley, Woolwich, Aldershot, Cairo, Millbank, 
Tidworth and Malta. There are also hospitals for 
military families, 1 2 at home and 5 overseas. 

The work of the Medical Department at the War 
Office is divided between five branches, and covers 
the administration of the whole Corps, of its reserves, 
of the Royal Army Medical College, of hospitals and 
medical treatment, of the supply of stores, and of 


hygiene. The Director-General is assisted also by an 
Advisory Board and a Consultative Committee com- 
posed of civilian and military experts, the one body 
to advise on policy and the other on professional 
questions. One branch administers the nursing 

Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing 
Service owes a great debt to royal ladies. From a 
small beginning in 1856 Queen Victoria's support 
of Florence Nightingale led, first, to the employment 
of nursing sisters in the Royal Victoria Hospital at 
Netley and the Herbert Hospital at Woolwich ; next, 
to the appointment of a staff of nurses to all military 
General Hospitals; and finally, in 1881, to the 
formation of an Army Nursing Service. Queen 
Alexandra continued the work, and was zealous in 
giving personal service as President of the Nursing 
Board introduced by Mr. St. John Brodrick; and 
our present Queen, in the same capacity, is a valued 
patron and staunch friend. The function performed 
by the branch at the War Office, headed by the 
Matron-in-Chief, is the recruitment and control of 

the whole Service. 

* * * # 

Thus, to sum up, the Adjutant-General divides 
his task between three directorates for recruiting 
and peace organisation, for "personal services" and 
for the Medical Service. The staff on April 1st, 
1934, comprised 48 officers serving or retired, a 
Matron-in-Chief and a Principal Matron, 2 civilian 
inspectors of medical supplies and 142 clerks. The 
distribution of the main duties is shown in the 
diagram appended. 


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Chapter VIII 

THE third military division of the War Office is the 
department of the Quarter-Master-General to the 

The history of the title "Quarter-Master-General" 
runs parallel to that of the Adjutant-General. In the 
New Model Army of Cromwell there were two, one 
of the Horse under the commander of the Cavalry, 
and one of the Foot under the commander of the 
Infantry. A Quarter-Master-General of the Forces as 
a whole is first traced after the Restoration in the 
year 1686, and was concerned solely with "march 
and quartering/' Throughout the eighteenth century 
his office remained a very small one, for as late as 
1 803 it consisted only of 7 officers, 3 clerks and 2 
messengers. At the latter date it had become part, 
with the Adjutant-General, of the staff of the Com- 
mander-in-Chief at the Horse Guards, and such 
work of a "General Staff" type as was done in the 
time of Wellington appears to have fallen to this 
officer in addition to movement and quartering 

Omitting here the incessant changes and re-allo- 
cations of War Office duties which followed the 
Crimean reform, the Esher Reports of 1 904 assigned 
the following to the "Q.M.G.": Transport and 
Remounts, Movement and Quartering, Supplies and 


Clothing, and the Charge of Equipment and Ord- 
nance stores. " Ordnance' ' stores meant the military 
stores such as arms, ammunition, vehicles and equip- 
ment handled by the Army Ordnance Department, 
which were thus made over to the "Q.M.G." in 
addition to barrack and general stores for which he 
was already responsible. This, a perfectly logical 
arrangement, was the system which obtained in the 
Great War, but an important change has since been 
made under stress of modern developments. As a 
result of the expansion of mechanisation, the Royal 
Army Ordnance Corps, and with it the charge of all 
military stores, was transferred in 1927 to the care 
of the Master-General of the Ordnance, where it 
certainly belongs by historical claim. 

Accordingly the Quarter-Master-General to the 
Forces now deals with the feeding, the housing and 
the conveyance of the troops, and the provision and 
care of animals, but no longer has charge of military 
stores; and his department comprises the five 
directorates of Movements and Quartering, Sup- 
plies and Transport, Remounts, Veterinary Services 
and Works "Works" being a term meaning 
building services. The niceties of military nomen- 
clature are much in evidence in this department. 
Thus the Director of Supplies and Transport has 
nothing to do with "transportation"; and the 
Director of Movements and Quartering who deals 
with "transportation services" (railway, sea and 
inland water) has nothing to do with transport 
vehicles. "Supplies," again, has a technical content, 
meaning food, forage, fuel and light, water, petrol 
and certain lubricants. "Remounts" is a term of art 


for horses; and in classification, if seldom in manners, 
a mule is a horse. 

The quartering of the military forces is, historic- 
ally, a sore subject. 

In the days when an army was created for the 
occasion the need arose only in time of war, and 
a gentleman known as the High Harbinger de- 
manded quarters in the name of the King; but 
Charles I liked to keep his soldiers together with or 
without the excuse of war, and went so far in 
abusing the right to * 'quarter" that the Commons 
were forced to petition the King "to remove this 
intolerable burden, " and the Petition of Right of 
1628 declared billeting to be illegal. This fact does 
not appear, however, to have occasioned much worry 
to Charles II. His circumstances were difficult, for 
his "guards and garrisons" could not have been 
quartered, even had he wished it, in the scattered 
fortresses which then existed, and Parliament had 
provided no barracks. The Crown, entitled to * 'dis- 
pose" the Army wherever it chose, was obliged to 
have recourse to billeting whether it was illegal or 
not, and a royal warrant of 1 672 gave express instruc- 
tions to quarter troops in "victualling houses, taverns 
and ale-houses," and, if these were not enough, then 
"in other houses"; and the soldier, being frequently 
left without pay, was compelled to live free at the 
charge of his host. The subject had no redress what- 
ever, and the practice was declared illegal once more 
by an Act of 1 679. This again did not deter James II 
from violating, the law throughout his reign, and 


when William III landed in England, billeting, we 
are told by Clode, was "probably the greatest social 
evil endured by the people" at that time; so that 
William, having accepted the throne on conditions 
of "parliamentary" behaviour which included the 
avoidance of this abuse, issued a proclamation at once 
(January 1689) which forbade billeting in private 
houses "without the free and voluntary consent of 
the owner." 

But the troops had to be quartered somewhere, 
and Parliament found itself forced to take action. 
Confronted not only by a rebellion in Ireland 
but also by a war with France "whereby there is 
occasion for the marching of many regiments . . . 
towards the sea coast and otherwise," Parliament, 
having authorised the existence of an Army, was 
compelled to give sanction to billeting on the march. 
To be sure, this Act (the 2nd Mutiny Act) was 
cautious and purely temporary. It empowered the 
constables and other magistrates to quarter officers 
and soldiers on the march in "inns, livery stables, 
ale-houses, victualling houses, and all houses selling 
brandy, strong waters, cyder or metheglin by retaile, 
to be dranke in their houses and noe other, and in 
noe private houses whatsoever." However, the power 
thus cautiously admitted was re-enacted in subse- 
quent Mutiny Acts, and was used for soldiers who 
were not on the march ; and the fact that the keepers 
of ale-houses were underpaid, if paid at all, for the 
food which they found themselves forced to provide, 
created, as the years went on, first a grievance and 
then a crisis. 

"We see," said a speaker in the House of 


Commons, "what an encroaching thing an army is, 
Free lodging for soldiers is now become a continual 
and settled thing upon public-houses." That was 
in 1741, and the Secretary-at-War had lately been 
much disturbed on the point, dreading in fact a 
mutiny, for the publicans had taken to closing their 
doors. Later, indeed, on the south coast it became 
a practice with the innkeepers to take down their 
signboards and throw up their licences upon the 
approach of troops who were ordered to be 
quartered. Thus at last, in 1792, Parliament was 
compelled, much against its will, to take steps to 
erect barracks. 

The building of barracks, as noted earlier, was 
opposed throughout the eighteenth century on the 
ground of danger to liberty. More barracks might 
mean more soldiers, and the standing Army was a 
terrible thing. The accommodation existing in 1697 
would hold 5,000 Infantry, and an estimate for that 
year provided tents for 10,000 men. The misery of 
the troops was real and great. When the Army was 
increased in a crisis the extra men were put under 
canvas, and when complaints were loud and bitter 
we read of the hiring of barns being permitted 
"whereby the soldiers may be kept from perishing." 
In 1718 a burst of generosity provided the sum of 
^9,300 to build four barracks in North Britain with 
one bed for every two men; but "the robberies and 
depredations of the Highlanders" supplied the real 
motive for this lavish display. Even when ministers 
were sorely embarrassed by the anti-billeting ale- 
house keepers, they did not dare to propose to build 
barracks. The total barrack accommodation existing 


in 1 792 in Great Britain and the Channel Islands was 
designed to house 20,847 men. 

As regards Movements, in the earlier days the 
Kings had relied on the right of "purveyance" to 
impress carriages as occasion required ; but Parliament 
at the Revolution was compelled to make provision 
by statute, as in the case of billeting. Every civil 
magistrate, on receiving an order from the Crown, 
was bound to provide conveyances at the rates laid 
down by the Mutiny Act. At the same time a safe- 
guard was carefully introduced for the protection of 
the people against military demands, for the counter- 
signing of these movement orders was one of the 
duties of the Secretary-at-War, and a remark made 
by the Duke of Wellington in this latter connection 
is well known: "The Commander-in-Chief cannot at 
this moment' ' (the moment was 1837) "move a cor- 
poral's guard from London to Windsor without 
going to the civil department for authority he 
must get a route/* The power of impressing vehicles 
in emergency is still retained, like the power of 
billeting, in the annually renewed Army Act. 

The Director of Movements and Quartering to- 
day has three branches, for Quartering, Movements 
and Transportation. The "D.M.Q." and the Quar- 
tering branch, in addition to their other duties, act 
as Staff to the "Q.M.G." for co-ordinating the view 
of the department as a whole. (A similar system exists, 
of course, in the other three Military Members' 
departments one branch acting as a central link.) 
Thus one of the duties of this directorate is to focus 
for the "Q.M.G.," in concert with all the branches 
concerned, the question of securing the utmost 


economy in the use of mechanical transport vehicles. 
With the recent growth of mechanisation the Army 
possesses a very large number of motor vehicles of 
various types a possession from which opportunities 
arise for casual employment with great waste or for 
strict control with great savings. To ensure the most 
economical use of these new and vast resources in 
transport is a "Q" duty throughout the Army which 
is specially controlled by the "D.M.Q." 

In the matter of Quartering the modern problem 
is much concerned with those overseas garrisons 
where, for political or other reasons, it is difficult to 
obtain a clear and fixed picture of future require- 
ments in accommodation. Where the size and the 
distribution of the troops can be regarded as reason- 
ably fixed, the War Office can decide forthwith 
whether permanent or "temporary" building is 
needed, whether quarters for married families are 
essential, and generally as to the scale of provision 
required; but inevitable uncertainty as regards the 
future, with consequent recourse to temporary ex- 
pedients, is a fruitful source of Quartering work, of 
which one instance in recent years is provided by the 
case of Singapore, and another by that of Palestine. 
The present estimate of the "works services," which 
the Army is compelled to undertake as a consequence 
of the new naval base, is shown (1934) as nearly 
j2,ooo,ooo; and this sum is still "provisional" while 
detailed requirements are further considered in the 
constant effort to reduce costs or to meet changes in 
the general plan. If the reader could see those "de- 
tailed requirements" a large part of the business of 
Quartering would require no further elucidation. 


At home conditions are more stable and the task 
is largely one of selection. Unfortunately for some 
years past the Department has been compelled by 
lack of funds to "cut" expenditure very low, avoiding 
the need for new construction, and the problem is to 
choose the most important from the lengthy lists of 
urgent requirements that are put forward by the 
Commands each year. Probably the age of the Army's 
barracks is not widely appreciated. Specimens of the 
Early Georgian, mainly on the south coast, find 
places in a fine collection which includes Napoleonic 
relics, select pieces of the Crimean era, and an im- 
pressive range of hutted camps, many labelled 
"South African War" and others "European War." 
Meanwhile in the matter of health and amenities the 
modern standard is extremely high, and the"Q.M.G." 
is besieged with demands for the replacement of 
huts that are worn out, for more "married quarters" 
for officers and men, for the improvement of existing 
structures in sanitary services, dining-rooms, re- 
creation grounds and institutes; while Mechan- 
isation, like a "big bad wolf," makes great bites at 
the available funds to satisfy its voracious appetite 
for workshops, garages and so on. The merits of 
these competing schemes must be carefully weighed 
and their details explored in conjunction with the 
Director of Works and the Finance and other 
branches concerned. 

A further duty of the Quartering branch is to act 
as official advocate, so to speak, in all questions 
affecting the "N.A.A.F.I." the Navy, Army and 
Air Force Institutes. This corporation provides the 
"shops" where the messing funds of the regiment 


are spent and the soldier buys his daily needs a 
great co-operative trading concern, conducted en- 
tirely for the benefit of the Services, the proceeds of 
which are given back to the soldier to provide extra 
messing and "club" amenities. The Services are 
partners in its control, and when questions arise 
which concern the Corporation and at the same time 
affect public funds, the watching of the soldier's 
interests falls in the province of the "Q.M.G." Much 
the same type of work also falls to this branch in the 
matter of lodging and furniture allowances, where 
the claims of the soldier form one side of the picture 
and fairness to public funds forms the other. Only 
difficult cases are referred to the War Office. 

The second function of the "D.M.Q.," the move- 
ment of troops, animals and stores by sea, land or 
inland water, is divided between two branches 
assisted by a special office at Woolwich (known as 
the A.D.M.T., Woolwich) which, among other 
Movement duties, administers the War Department 

On the land-movement side of the work fall the 
detailed arrangements with the Railway Companies 
for the conveyance of units on change of station. 
Troops at home change their stations every few 
years, for the training of a unit is apt to grow 
stale if it is constantly using the same ground; and 
the annual programme of Indian and "Colonial" 
reliefs adds a further mass of railway movement 
between the ports and the home stations not only of 
units but of drafts and individuals. Negotiations with 
the Railway Companies for concessions in the 
matter of charges has created constant work for the 


War Office, complicated in recent years by the 
competition of road transport, since military traffic 
is a valuable item. The right of the Army to special 
railway rates dates from an Act of 1883. A further 
sphere of Movements work, in concert with the 
Finance branch, is the settlement of travelling claims. 
Difficult v cases are bound to arise since the regulations 
which govern the subject have to cover a wide and 
varied field, and claims may range from some matter 
of berths for an officer's family bound for the East 
to the mileage allowance for a private bicycle. Be the 
Regulations never so lengthy, "border-line" cases 
always abound which require decision at headquarters. 

As regards movements by sea, we here encounter 
the mystery known as "the Trooping Season," which 
lasts roughly from September to April. An Infantry 
battalion, in the course of its twenty-one years abroad, 
moves round the world on a circular tour; while the 
Cavalry, the Horse and the Light Artillery move 
between Home, Egypt and India, and the personnel 
of other arms and services do tours overseas as indi- 
viduals. Add to these the flow of "drafts" which are 
sent out to fill up the units abroad in replacement of 
the men who are due for the Reserve, add detach- 
ments to be carried for the Navy and the Air Force, 
and the total of all these cross-movements will con- 
vey some idea of the annual flux between Home 
waters and the Mediterranean, Egypt, Palestine, 
Port Sudan, India, Ceylon and the Far East. 

Here, too, we meet some technical terms, though 
the Army is never obtrusively nautical and even 
conducts the hiring of ships through the medium of 
another department, the Mercantile Marine branch 


of a valuable ally, the Board of Trade. One is "moved" 
by sea officially in one of three distinct ways: either 
as an individual, by the commonplace but superior 
means of a berth booked on an ordinary liner; or as 
one of a Government party on a liner, which is then 
officially a "freight ship"; or in a vessel specially 
chartered and fitted, which is frankly and definitely 
a "troopship." Normally there are five troopships 
making their tours throughout the season, a typical 
tour being Home Gibraltar Hong Kong India 
Palestine Home ; and the overflow from all sources 
which cannot be fitted into the troopships will re- 
quire the use of some fifty freight ships for parties 
varying from tens to hundreds. The working out of 
the detailed programme to suit the demands of all 
concerned the General Staff, the Adjutant-General, 
the local Commands, and other Government de- 
partments is a large duty of "D.M.Q." The War 
Office, it has been said, withholds information quite 
unnecessarily regarding the dates fixed for moves; 
but the inconvenience and hardship so caused would 
be much greater, in the light of experience, if official 
forecasts were made earlier; for in practice it is not 
uncommon for one small emergency, unforeseen 
and not within the control of the Office, to upset the 
whole Trooping picture. Nor are critics lacking 
within the War Office when sailings have to be held 
up. The intricate task of readjusting the programme 
is not noticeably gladdened by the timely reminder 
that a troopship costs 500 a day! . . . The Em- 
barkation Staff at Southampton works directly under 

Quite distinct from this passenger work is the 


role of the War Department Fleet, which originally 
belonged to the Board of Ordnance and dates back 
at least to the time of Napoleon. Apart from dinghies 
and other small boats, it consists to-day of 66 craft 
ranging from sea-going steamers based on Woolwich 
to tong-kangs plying off Singapore. Its major func- 
tions may be said to be three: the first, to convey 
heavy guns and mountings which could not be 
carried in commercial vessels; the second, to tow 
artillery targets, which again requires special mach- 
inery ; and the third a purely economic function 
to carry explosives and military stores both in Home 
waters and at ports abroad such as Hong Kong, 
Singapore, Bermuda and Jamaica. The economy of 
maintaining the fleet in Home waters has often been 
questioned in the past century; but the railage of 
stores from the central depots, such as Didcot and 
Bramley, to the various Commands would be 
demonstrably more expensive; and, unless there are 
special reasons of urgency, the stores are conveyed 
via Woolwich coastwise. 

Finally, the 44 D.M.Q." is charged with vital 
functions relating to war. One is the complete prepar- 
ation of plans for the movement of the Field Force, 
not only in arranging the railway moves as a part of 
the "mobilisation scheme, but also in collecting for 
the General Staff all information regarding facilities 
in possible theatres of war overseas. If Utopia were 
a possible * 'theatre/ 1 full details concerning the 
"movement " problem in that somewhat inaccessible 
country would doubtless be found to be ready and 
waiting. A second function is technical training 
the training of the troops required in war for the 


construction and operation of railways, and for dock 
and water-transport duties. For this work, apart 
from the Regular R.E., there are special "trans- 
portation units," a part of the Supplementary Re- 
serve, recruited from the employees of the Railway 
Companies; and the War Office maintains a special 
centre, the Railway Training Centre at Longmoor, 
where the Woolmer Instructional Military Railway 
with its eight miles of rails, its yards and its work- 
shops provides facilities for all types of practice from 
signalling methods to heavy bridging; and also for 
practical combined exercises in which other arms 
can rehearse entrainment and co-operation with rail- 
way troops in the special problems of transportation. 
This centre, like the little known "Fleet," is under 
the control of the "D.M.Q." 

The second directorate of the "Q.M.G." is that 
of the Director of Supplies and Transport. 

The transport and supply columns of a force in 
the field have rightly been called "the life-blood of 
an army," and the failure to recognise this fact until 
comparatively recent times strikes the layman as 
being a considerable mystery. The history of the 
subject in the British Army does not flatter the 
common sense of the nation ; but as set out by Sir 
John Fortescue in his volume entitled "R.d.S.C." 
it provides some interesting reading.* 

From obscure beginnings, through a shadowy 
adolescence, the story moves with the pleasing 

* Note 16, page 345- 


transitions of a Hollywood picture to the tardy 
triumph of a happy climax. The first scene is set 
amid storm and plunder. The soldier of the Middle 
Ages received no public ration at all and lived on 
the country in which he fought; and this still was 
the state of affairs generally with the armies which 
fought in the Civil War between Charles I and 
Parliament until Cromwell created his New Model 
Army. Then, under Cromwell's ordered regime, 
the ration consisted of bread and cheese in the 
charge of a Commissary-General of Victualling, 
and, the troops being more or less regularly paid, 
private contractors, known as sutlers, followed the 
Army and opened a market where the soldiers could 
buy food and drink a fashion which had long been 
common abroad. 

The next scene starts in 1661 with the first 
appearance of the Regular Army, that collection of 
regiments of Horse and Foot which formed the 
"Guards and Garrisons. " No food was provided 
now by the State, for the soldier in fact belonged 
to his Colonel and all arrangements were regi- 
mental. The nominal pay of a private of Foot was 
8d. a day, out of which he was clothed and fed 
by the Colonel, lodging, food and beer being 
provided under contracts made with the ale-house 
keepers on whom the men were billeted. Later, in 
1689, with the passing of the 2nd Mutiny Act, the 
daily tariff for feeding the soldier was laid down by 
Parliament, and no great change was made in this 
system throughout the following century. In prac- 
tice, therefore, the Commissariat Department, that 
small body of Treasury clerks which was charged 


with the business of supply and transport as being 
matters financial rather than military, was concerned 
only with troops overseas. 

In Marlborough's campaigns in Flanders, for 
example, bread was supplied by the Commissariat 
by means of a single gigantic contract with one 
Sir Solomon Medina, who engaged to supply 
bread and waggons; and the soldier depended for 
everything but bread on a small army of licensed 
sutlers one grand sutler for every regiment and 
one petty sutler for a troop or company. Marl- 
borough was stern in repressing plunder, and 
ordered that the soldier should be messed regularly 
and should be given "flesh meat" twice a week, for 
which, like the bread, he paid with his wages; but 
the sutlers, of course, were shameless thieves, as we 
know from the life of Mrs, Kit Ross, a famous 
character in the Duke's army, who fought as a man 
and was wounded twice before she discovered her 
true avocation and took up the business of "sutler- 
ing" herself with conspicuous success and a com- 
mand of language which even in those days met with 
respect. As to transport, it seems that the contractor's 
bread-waggons were used for every kind of purpose, 
and that the regimental baggage often colossal, at 
least in the case of senior officers was carried by 
hired pack-animals. This primitive state of supply 
and transport continued throughout that century; 
and while arrangements could be, and were, made 
for passable subsistence in the Low Countries, the 
conditions endured by the garrisons abroad where 
victualling houses were unknown, and by the troops 
who fought in Canada and America where sutlers 


were rare or non-existent, did little credit to the 
Home authorities. 

The scene shifts to the Peninsular War, where 
contracts were none and roads were hopeless, and 
the clerks of the Commissariat, unversed in other 
than paper-work, had to learn their business by 
painful experience and persuade an extremely re- 
luctant Treasury that their duty was not one of 
signing cheques but of moving and feeding 40,000 
men from thirty-seven scattered depots. Bread, meat 
and spirits had to be provided; mules, oxen and 
drivers collected for transport; and in spite of in- 
credible difficulties the organisation at the end of 
some years was quite remarkably successful. Thus 
Wellington showed how much could be done in the 
way of creating an Army Service Corps. 

But his work was allowed to fall to pieces in the 
great reaction which came with peace. The Com- 
missariat remained a Civil department responsible 
for food, forage and fuel, while the provision of 
transport and other requirements of vital import- 
ance to troops in the field were left to the chance 
of extemporised methods; and this is the position 
forty years later when the Army appears at the 
Crimea. Here on the luckless Commissariat fell, 
in the words of Fortescue, "the entire burden 
of providing money, of making all contracts for 
supplies and stores, and of furnishing provisions, 
forage, fuel and light, besides transport, whether by 
land or sea." An improvised Land Transport Corps 
was first inefficient and then too late, and in any case 
was entirely separate from the departments which 
dealt with stores and supplies ; but the many failures 


of the Crimean War proved to be well-disguised 
blessings, one result being that the Commissariat 
was transferred to the charge of the War Office, and 
the union of the functions of transport and supply, 
though still postponed, was at least made possible. 

The first Director of Supplies and Transport was 
appointed at the War Office in 1870 when, in the 
Cardwell re-organisation, the whole business of 
stores and supplies was centred in the " Supply" 
department under the Surveyor-General of the Ord- 
nance. A very small "Army Service Corps" with the 
two functions of supply and transport had been created 
in the previous year, but bewildering changes had 
still to be suffered both in its title and its organ- 
isation before, by the work of Sir Redvers Buller, it 
was rebuilt under its first name in December, 1888, 
as a properly recognised military corps instead of 
a semi-civilian department. In South Africa at the 
close of the Boer War the number of men in receipt 
of rations was 327,000, and of horses and mules 
265,000; and the corps which fed this large force 
numbered 3,000 of all ranks. Its merit and value 
were firmly established. In the same year, 1902, the 
Mechanical Transport Section was started, and a 
small unit (No. 77 Company) was formed at Chatham 
in 1903, operating with traction engines. Such was 
the beginning of a branch of the corps which was 
patiently nursed through the "pre-war" era and was 
destined fifteen years later to number 1 50,000 men. 

Nor is the change any less striking if we turn for 
a moment to the soldier at home. 

The old billeting methods had come to an end 
when the building of barracks was started in 


earnest at the close of the eighteenth century. The 
ration, which consisted of i Ib. of bread and f Ib. 
of meat daily, the latter being beef and always 
boiled because no other means of cooking existed, 
was at first supplemented by licensed pedlars, and 
later by canteens allowed in the barracks out of 
which contractors made pretty profits, and the 
State too, from the soldier's pocket. But here the 
Crimea did another great service: it brought the 
public for the first time into sympathetic touch with 
the Army. In place of a brutal and dissolute outcast 
the soldier was seen as a gallant figure, devotedly 
loyal and amazingly patient; and very great efforts 
were made by officers both in and out of Parliament, 
and not least by Sidney Herbert, to improve the 
amenities of barrack life. 

Progress, slow at first but steady, was made in 
the sphere of the soldier's food. When Aldershot 
camp was first opened butcheries and bakeries 
were set up, and groceries were furnished at whole- 
sale prices. Instruction began to be given in cook- 
ing. Next, the canteens were made regimental. 
Cardwell, in 1873, abolished the stoppage for 
bread and meat, and the ration became a free 
issue. A messing allowance of 3d. a day was added 
in 1898, and great improvements in messing 
arrangements followed a Committee of 1910 which 
led to the appointment at the War Office of a 
messing expert whose duty it is to advise and assist 
Commanding Officers the Inspector of Army 
Catering. Finally, an immense benefit to the soldier 
dates from the efforts of a few officers in the year 
1894, when the Canteen and Mess Co-operative 


Society laid the foundations of that great concern, 
trading within and for the Services, which is now 
an essential adjunct to the Army in the shape of the 

The present-day work of the "D.S.T." is organised 
in three branches, one dealing with Supplies, one 
with Transport vehicles, and the third with the 
Royal Army Service Corps. 

The Supplies branch is small in itself, but is 
very large in its spending power. The cost of 
* 'supplies," covering food, forage, fuel, light, 
water, petrol and lubricants, amounts in the Esti- 
mates for 1934 to ^2,200,000; and this does not 
include the cash allowances which are given when 
supplies are not drawn in kind. Further, being so 
large a consumer, the War Office buys for the 
Royal Air Force, and to a small extent for the Navy 
as well. The main duties may be said to be two: to 
provide and control the feeding of the Army, and 
to ensure the readiness of the Supply organisation for 
any emergency, large or small, in any possible area of 

In the matter of improving the feeding of the 
soldier great strides have been made since the late 
war. The standard ration for the troops at home 
now consists of three parts : meat, bread (or biscuit), 
sugar, tea and salt, which are issued in kind by the 
R.A.S.C.; bacon, cheese, jam or syrup, and marg- 
arine, for which, with the exception of a proportion 
of bacon, the cash equivalent may be drawn instead; 
and a cash allowance of about 3d. a head for buying 
such "extras" as vegetables. For troops abroad there 
is less elasticity; each garrison has its own complete 


scale, framed to suit its climatic and other con- 
ditions, and the whole of the ration is drawn in kind 
except, in some cases, a small proportion. At home, 
speaking broadly, the food and the money are handed 
over in bulk to the units and are handled through 
their Messing Committees; and the general policy 
is for every unit to be served by a Regimental Insti- 
tute, where the foodstuffs required to vary the diet 
are provided by the N.A.A.F.I. 

The foodstuffs provided by the R.A.S.C. are 
purchased either in bulk by the War Office, through 
the Contracts department described later, or through 
local contracts placed by Commands whichever of 
these two methods is both practicable and the more 
economical. Taking the purchases made at Head- 
quarters, those of frozen meat amount each year to 
about 34 million lb.; those of flour, about 25 million 
lb.; and of sugar, about 5 million lb. Some two- 
thirds of the bread for the troops is baked in the 
Army's own bakeries. 

One question which "D.S.T." has to consider, 
working of course with the Contracts directorate, 
is the cheapest method of distribution. It may be 
economical, for example, for forage for China to 
be bought in Canada, tor meat to be delivered 
direct from Australia to China and all the large 
stations abroad, and for tea for those stations to 
be sent from Ceylon. The supplies not delivered 
direct to Commands are handled by another large 
establishment administered by "D.S.T.," the Supply 
Reserve Depot at Deptford, which not only stores 
the War Reserves but acts as a distributing centre 
for the food sent to stations abroad. The turning over 


of the perishable reserves is, of course, a complicating 
factor, and accounts, for example, for the fact that 
the soldier must perforce consume a proportion of 
biscuit. The compulsory eating of bacon, on the 
other hand, is due to the share of the Medical 
Department in determining how the troops shall be 
fed with a proper respect for calories. 

The Supplies branch, to sum up, is responsible 
that the Army receives its food; responsible for its 
adequacy, in the settlement of the ration scales; and 
responsible for its quality, in drawing up the 
detailed specifications on which the purchases are 
made. There are also, of course, forage and fuel 
which raise similar questions for "D.S.T." as, 
for instance, the quality of oats or of coal, and 
the types of petrol and oils required; and naturally 
the cash allowances, which are given when supplies 
are not drawn in kind, form a constant source of 
work for the War Office in the framing of clear 
regulations and the settlement of "hard cases." 
A recent example of the research work which is also 
one of the tasks of this branch is an attempt to im- 
prove the "emergency ration" which the soldier 
must carry on active service. The old "iron ration" 
was somewhat weighty, and here modern science can 
come to the rescue. 

A final "popular" topic remains. The variety 
of the meals served to the soldier is mainly a matter 
of regimental management; but the "D.S.T." takes 
a share in this work. Training is given at the School 
of Cookery, situated at Aldershot, in "the most 
economical use of the ration," and expert advice is 
available to units through the Inspector of Army 


Catering; while a proof of the acceptance of the 
modern maxim that "a well-fed soldier is a contented 
soldier" is the issue of The Manual of Military 
Cooking. This last publication secured for the War 
Office an unwonted meed of Press approval. Perhaps 
the reviewers could remember days when Army 
meals were not quite so inviting as the following 
specimen diet suggests: Tuesday, Breakfast tea, 
bread, stewed steak and onions, and brown gravy; 
Dinner meat pies, mashed potatoes, haricot beans, 
and rice pudding or macaroni and prunes; Tea 
tea, bread, margarine and salmon fish-cakes; Supper 
vegetable soup, bread and biscuit. Diet-sheets, 
complete for a week, are issued by the War Office 
every three months "for the guidance only" of 
Messing Officers. The opinion appears to be general 
that the soldier of to-day is well fed. 

The second function of "D.S.T." is the organ- 
isation of the Transport, animal and mechanical^ 
which carries out Royal Army Service Corps 
duties, and the provision of the necessary motor 
vehicles alike for peace and for war functions. 

A somewhat difficult modern problem arises out 
of the pursuit by the War Office of a proper policy 
of economy. The peace-time duties of the R.A.S.C. 
are discharged by a small number of Regular 
soldiers and some sixteen hundred lorries and cars, 
and the expansion required for a field force is 
left to be supplied, as far as men are concerned, by 
reservists and post-mobilisation recruits. But in war, 
apart from the vehicles required for the ordinary 
duties of load-carrying in the supply, baggage and 
ammunition companies, certain special vehicles 


would also be needed such as workshop lorries and 
ambulances, and these must be capable of use off 
the road: in fine, for efficient cross-country per- 
formance these special vehicles must be six-wheelers. 
To keep idle in reserve all the special vehicles which 
are not required for peace duties would be wasteful, 
even if the cost could be met; and the policy is, 
therefore, to use six-wheel lorries for the normal 
peace-time station duties together with the means 
of converting them quickly into the special vehicles 
required in emergency. Thus the vehicles required 
in war for the normal work of load-carrying would 
have to be provided after mobilisation, and the means 
of obtaining them must be planned. The plan adopted 
is the Impressment Scheme whereby lorries suitable 
for load-carrying duties could be taken "off the 
streets" in time of emergency under powers given 
by the Army Act. Thus a main duty of the Transport 
branch is to combine a condition of readiness for 
emergency with a due economy of ways and means. 
The difficulty of supplying spare-parts in the field 
when a number of different makes is involved, is 
met by standardising types. 

Among other duties of the Transport branch is 
the maintenance of the peace-time fleet of about 
2,000 vehicles (including, incidentally, thirteen fire- 
engines), the hiring of commercial transport when 
Army vehicles are absent at training, and liaison 
with the civil authorities as to licensing and suchlike 
matters. The business of maintenance is centred at 
Feltham in a Vehicle Reserve Depot, a Mechanical 
Transport Stores Depot, and a large shop for 
Heavy Repairs; while the important function of 


inspection, both of all vehicles and parts purchased 
and of vehicles ear-marked for possible use, is 
carried out by special staffs reporting to the "D.S.T." 
Finally, a third branch administers the personnel, 
both military and civilian, employed on the duties 
of Supply and Transport and on R.A.S.C. services 
generally. A large amount of civilian labour is em- 
ployed at the depots, barracks and offices: in fact, 
there are over 2,500 civilians employed on manual 
or clerical duties. The Assistant Director of this 
branch occupies a two-sided position, being also an 
Assistant Adjutant-General for administering the 
military corps on behalf of the "A.G." Department. 

The next business of the "Q.M.G.," the provision 
and care of the Army's horses, is divided between two 
small directorates, the one administering the Remount 
Service and the other the Army Veterinary Services. 

The former, the Remount Department, dates 
from 1887, before which time the purchase of 
horses was conducted by the separate corps with 
much expensive clashing of interests, or, in times 
of sudden emergency, by hastily assembled ad hoc 
committees. The main duties to-day are two 
the purchase and maintenance of suitable animals 
for peace requirements at home and abroad, includ- 
ing the control of the Remount depots; and arrange- 
ments for providing animals in war, when large 
extra numbers would be required. "Animals" in 
time of war may extend to messenger-dogs and 
pigeons, but in time of peace "animals" are horses 
with a due admixture of Army mules. 


In these days the Army possesses some 16,000 
horses and mules, as compared with 28,800 in the 
year 1914; and the War Office is sometimes charged 
with obtuseness in employing even as many as these 
"when all the world is mechanised/' Critics appear 
at times to be assuming that modern war is of a 
standard pattern, and to forget, among other 
material points, the varied conditions of the opera- 
ations which the British Army must be prepared 
to meet; while the measures which other nations 
are taking to preserve horses of the Army type 
would repay the critic's study. The department 
would certainly be open to criticism if its eyes were 
shut to the position in this country where the types 
of horse which the Army needs are ceasing, as 
motor transport spreads, to be a profitable invest- 
ment to private breeders. 

In this matter the work of the War Office consists 
in a very modest scheme the administration of 
subsidy grants to a total of ^5,000 a year for en- 
couraging the breeding of the requisite types. For 
the rest, continuous work is being done through the 
forty-three District Remount Officers in classifying 
the available supply of horses and in compiling lists 
for use in emergency. Another duty is the actual 
purchasing; for the Remount branch is an exception 
to the rule that the War Office buys through its 
Contracts department. The branch does its own 
buying of horses, and the policy is to buy direct from 
breeders and to purchase only in Great Britain, as far 
as the nursing of markets permit. The Remount 
depots in this country are at Arborfield Cross, near 
Reading, and at Melton Mowbray. 


The Army Veterinary Department dates from 
1878. The Corps was created in 1903, and became 
a royal corps in 1918. The Director-General at the 
War Office deals with all questions of veterinary 
service, and controls the training school and the 
School of Farriery, both of which are at Aldershot. 
Modern improvements in horse welfare form an 
important side of the work. The best means of con- 
veying horses by sea, and the transport of sick 
animals in the field, may be quoted as typical Army 

The last of the "Q.M.G.'s" charges is the large 
directorate of Works, a sphere of the Corps of Royal 

In a famous royal warrant of 1683 which set 
forth the duties of the Board of Ordnance, the Chief 
Engineer is a lesser official, "a person skilled in all 
the parts of mathematicks" and competent to con- 
struct fortifications, with four assistants under his 
orders. Not until the reign of George I did the 
Engineers become a military branch, as one of the 
two "scientific corps" (the other being the Artillery) 
created under Marlborough when the Duke was 
Master-General of the Ordnance. The Engineers 
then were officers only, the artisans being wholly 
civilian and hired as circumstances required; but at 
last, in 1772, a company of soldier-artificers was 
raised who proved their worth at the siege of 
Gibraltar, and in 1787 amid great opposition, for 
Parliament feared such a dangerous innovation, six 
similar companies were raised at home as the Corps 


of Military Artificers. The officers were now styled 
"Royal Engineers/' but the corps remained a 
distinct body, although both belonged to the Board 
of Ordnance; and this continued to be the position 
till the Board itself ceased to exist in the sweeping 
reforms of the Crimean crisis. The united corps of 
"Royal Engineers" came into being in the following 
year (1856). 

Meanwhile the really vital change, the creation of 
the means of efficient training, had taken place in 
1812 largely through the efforts of a single officer, 
afterwards General Sir George Pasley. The sieges of 
the Peninsular War were, Napier tells us, "a suc- 
cession of butcheries" owing partly to the absence 
of close connection between the R.E. officers and the 
Corps of Artificers, and mainly to the lack of training 
of both. Pasley wrote of the officers in 1 809 : "As for 
practical instruction they had none; for they were 
sent on service without even having seen a fascine 
or a gabion, without the smallest knowledge of the 
military passage of rivers, of military mining, or of 
any other operation of a siege, excepting what they 
might pick up from French writers." Similarly the 
Corps of Artificers were mechanics who possessed 
no knowledge of field duties. 

Fortunately, in 1811, after two unsuccessful 
sieges of Badajos, Wellington wrote to the Home 
authorities and demanded that six of the com- 
panies of Artificers should be renamed "Royal 
Sappers and Miners," and should be given perma- 
nent officers and "some instruction in their art," 
and the following year saw the royal warrant which 
authorised the R.E. Establishment at Chatham, 


now known as the "School of Military Engineering." 
Major Pasley was the first Director, a post which he 
held for 29 years, and thenceforth both the R.E. 
officers and the Sappers and Miners were properly 
trained. Pasley was the inventor of Portland cement. 
His courses in "Practical Architecture" laid the 
foundation of the building work which is the im- 
mediate concern of the Directorate of Works. 

The building of barracks, as already mentioned, 
was started in earnest in 1792. The R.E. at first had 
no hand in it. Contrary to all tradition the Board of 
Ordnance was ignored and the work was entrusted 
to a new officer who received the title Barrackmaster- 
General, responsible to the Commander-in-Chief. 
This gentleman spent 9,000,000, and was found 
by a Parliamentary Commission to have grievously 
wasted the public money; after which unfortunate 
episode his department was made entirely civilian. 
Nor were the Engineers responsible for those "field 
works and other measures of Defence," such as 
beacons, guard-houses and entrenched camps erected 
in the southern counties under stress of fear of "the 
French ogre*" An instance of these is the Royal 
Military Canal from "Shorne-Cliffe in Kent to Cliffe 
End in Sussex," which cost 221,306 35. 2|d. 

Next, in 1822, the control of all works services 
was re-transferred to the Board of Ordnance, and so 
it remained till the Board was absorbed. The property 
in all lands and buildings was then (1855-56) vested 
in the Secretary of State for War, and the Inspector- 
General of Fortifications, who had previously served 
the Master-General of the Ordnance, retained the 
control of construction services through all the several 


re-organisations that separated the Crimean changes 
from the Esher Reports of 1 904. At the latter stage 
an experiment was made. The construction of any 
new barracks or hospital costing over ^2,000 was 
removed from the control of the R.E. and entrusted 
to a new branch, a special Barrack Construction 
Department, assigned to the Parliamentary Under- 
secretary of State and composed of civilian architects 
and surveyors. But this Esher reform was not lasting, 
and in 1917 the branch disappeared and the work 
reverted to the R.E., under the Director of Forti- 
fications and Works, whose title is now Director of 

Engineer services in the field include the con- 
struction of all installations such as store-sheds, 
offices and workshop buildings, electric power and 
pumping stations, bakeries, laundries, roads and 
bridges ; and the employment of Royal Engineers in 
peace-time to supervise all building services forms 
an important part of their training. The building is 
normally done by contract, and is very closely con- 
trolled by the War Office. For ordinary repairs and 
maintenance work the Commands are allowed a free 
hand within a total allotment of money, except where 
a service is particularly large; but every new capital 
works service of over 100 in the case of hospitals 
and 500 in other cases must be duly approved by 
the "D.W." before the proposal may be put forward 
for inclusion in the year's programme. With a strictly 
limited total of money to be spent within the financial 
year this plan is absolutely essential. It is necessary 
to secure that the services included have been fully 
explored as regards their merits and thoroughly 


settled as to cost and design, since delay in starting 
a particular service on account of some point 
which was not quite "ready," and the consequent 
lapse at the end of the year of the money provided 
in the Estimates, would have the result that some 
other service had been crowded out to no good 

The point brings out an important feature in the 
work of this directorate. The "D.W." does not 
initiate services: his function is that of a technical 
expert who carries out such building work as the 
Army Council as a whole approves. Indeed there 
is here a good illustration of the inter-working of 
the several departments, which perhaps has been 
too little stressed in sketching the separate functions 
of each. The priority of urgency of all proposals is 
settled between the Members of Council : the prime 
advocate of hospital services being, for example, the 
Adjutant-General, of a new barracks the Quarter- 
Master-General, or of defence works the General 
Staff. Though the money provided is a large total 
over 2,800,000 in the Estimates for 1934 
the competition is very severe; for in lean years 
building services offer a tempting field for "cuts, 1 * 
and the total for new construction and maintenance 
fell by nearly 1,000,000 between 1927 and 1933. 
As far as "maintenance" is concerned, which alone 
costs over a million a year, this includes the upkeep 
of all estates, telegraphs, telephones and fixed 
machinery as well as of barracks, hospitals, ranges 
and all other buildings and fortifications. The War 
Office owns over seventy pumping stations, and 
supplies its own electric current at thirty installations 


at home and abroad at an average cost (1933) of 
2.O9d. a unit. 

As regards the last point it is the policy of the 
department to make full use of the Grid system 
wherever this plan would be economical and would 
not present any military difficulty. 

The directorate is organised in five branches. One 
deals with building services at home; a second with 
similar services abroad and all ranges and fortifi- 
cations; and a third with electrical and mechanical 
engineering, with the provision of stores in peace 
and war, and the organisation of the special staff (the 
"Staff for Works and Engineer Services") consisting 
of military inspectors and surveyors, and military 
and civilian clerks of works, foremen, mechanists 
and so on. The fourth deals with the design of 
barracks, and the fifth with quantity surveying. There 
is also a special technical branch which reports direct 
to the "Q.M.G." and is concerned with the testing 
of work done and the independent checking of bills. 

The organisation of the department as a whole is 
summed up in a diagram. The staff of the "Q.M.G/' 
at the War Office consisted on ist April, 1934, of 
60 officers, serving or retired, 87 military and civilian 
clerks, and 66 civilians in technical posts. This in- 
cludes the Inspector of R.A.S.C. Services who re- 
ports to the Director of Military Training on the 
training of troops for war and to "Q.M.G." on other 
matters. The special position of the branch of 
"Finance" which is attached to this military depart- 
ment will be mentioned in a later chapter. 





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^? -77< M 

Chapter IX 

THE fourth military division of the War Office is the 
department of the Master-General of the Ordnance, 
which deals with weapons and fighting material and, 
in general, with the stores of the Army. It thus traces 
its lineage to the Board of Ordnance, that venerable 
and prolific body established in the fifteenth century 
whose three other distinguished descendants are the 
Royal Regiment of Artillery, the Corps of Royal 
Engineers, and the Royal Army Ordnance Corps. 
True to this historic tradition one of the Master- 
General's directors deals with guns and small arms, 
a second with engineer stores and mechanised 
vehicles, a third is the Director of Ordnance Services, 
and the fourth is Director of the Ordnance Factories 
where warlike stores are manufactured. 

The revival of this ancient title was a happy in- 
spiration of the Esher triumvirate. Before a Secretary- 
at-War existed at all the Master of the Ordnance was 
a great appointment; and while the small civil office 
was growing in power the Master-General stood 
independent, was a principal military adviser to the 
Crown, and was normally a Cabinet Minister. Even 
at the end of the eighteenth century when the office 
of Commander-in-Chief was created, the Master- 
General and his "scientific corps" formed a separate 
side of the military picture proudly distinct from "the 


Army" at large. The officers and men of these Ord- 
nance Corps were not included in the numbers which 
were mentioned annually in the preamble of the 
Mutiny Act. In the Napoleonic wars, again, that 
aloof body the Board of Ordnance possessed a 
separate medical department: the Board provided its 
own engineers while a separate corps of military 
artificers, called the Royal Staff Corps, was formed 
by the Army : the Board organised its own transport 
while the Army created a Royal Waggon Train. In 
the Crimean War half a century later the Artillery 
and the Engineers were better served than the rest 
of the forces, since the Master-General looked after 
his own. The eminent holders of this high post, before 
it disappeared in 1855, included Marlborough, Wel- 
lington and Raglan. 

Although the birth of the Ordnance office is not 
traced before the fifteenth century, engineers and 
"artillery*' craftsmen had appeared on the scene at 
a much earlier date. The term "ordnance" was far 
more ancient, and included all weapons and engines 
of war. Large catapults and battering-rams in 
addition to armour, bows and pikes were stocked at 
the Tower from early times, and at the siege of Calais 
in 1347, when a rude form of cannon was certainly 
used, there were engineers and armourers, gunners 
and artillerymen ("ingeniatores, armatores, gunna- 
tores et artillarii"). In these early days and for long 
afterwards the functions of gunners and engineers 
were combined in the "trains of artillery " which were 
specially raised for each campaign. Thus a train sent 
on service in 1544 under Sir Thomas Seymour, 
Master of the Ordnance, included 2 master-gunners, 



209 gunners, 157 artificers, a chief conductor, 4 men 
to look after "the King's great mares," 6 conductors 
of the ordnance, 20 carters and a captain command- 
ing 100 pioneers. 

The first cannon were constructed of lengths 
of wrought iron strengthened with hoops and 
fired with peril, and no mention of casting occurs 
in this country before the year 1521 when "great 
brass cannon and culverins" began to be made by 
one John Owen. Quaint names appear in Elizabeth's 
time, such as bombards, robinets, falcons and min- 
ions, the name varying with the size of the piece and 
the largest being the basiliske; and a century later 
there were "culverin drakes" 8 feet in length, and 
"saker-drakes." In the course of the seventeenth 
century the use of guns became universal, but, while 
they varied immensely in calibre, they were very few 
in proportion to the forces. When James II attempted 
to terrorise London, the guns for his fourteen regi- 
ments at Hounslow were a small number of brass 
3-pounders under Gentlemen of the Ordnance and 
a few attendants, 2 demi-culverins and 6 mortars; 
and the artillery train which was raised for Marl- 
borough in his first campaign of 1702 consisted of 
34 pieces in all, including 14 sakers and 4 howitzers. 
The howitzer was a cross between two other types : 
the cannon proper, cast in iron or brass and firing a 
solid projectile direct, and the mortar, very short and 
squat, with a fixed elevation of 45 degrees. These 
three types remained in use throughout the eigh- 
teenth century. 

The Royal Regiment of Artillery was born in the 
year 1716, starting as two companies of gunners, 


and remained under the control of the Board of 
Ordnance, commanded by the Master-General, until 
the Board was abolished in 1855. From the first the 
Regiment grew steadily. In the Seven Years' War 
(1756-63) the R.A. served in the East and West 
Indies, North America, the Mediterranean, Ger- 
many and at Belleisle, and reached a total of 30 com- 
panies. Throughout this time the movement of the 
guns was managed by hiring horses and drivers: 
indeed it was not until 1822 that a transport corps 
of Artillery Drivers, which had been created for the 
French war, was absorbed into the Royal Regiment. 
The long struggle against Napoleon saw a great 
increase in the Artillery, the strength reaching 
25,000 men; but reaction followed Waterloo and 
the Regiment was allowed to dwindle. In 1845 ^ e 
number voted for all ranks was only 7,039. 

Improvement began two years later, following a 
letter which Wellington wrote pointing out the 
defenceless condition of the country. There had 
been no artillery range at all until Shoeburyness was 
acquired in that year. The era was one of repeated 
panics. In 1852 the strength of the Regiment had 
risen to 11,972. Then, with Lord Hardinge as 
Commander-in-Chief an able and distinguished 
soldier and Sidney Herbert as Secretary-at-War, 
a great re-armament was started, and 300 new guns 
were ordered to supplement the few old pieces which 
remained as relics of Waterloo. These were mainly 
9-pounders our movable armament at the Crimea. 

In the sweeping changes at home, when the Board 
of Ordnance disappeared, the R.A. and the^R.E. 
took their place at last alongside of the Cavalry and 


the Infantry as integral parts of the Army, while the 
"civil" duty of providing munitions was vested in 
the Secretary of State for War, with the Director- 
General, Royal Artillery, as technical adviser on 
armaments and the Inspector-General of Forti- 
fications as adviser on engineering stores. To com- 
plete the War Office side of the story, in the Stan- 
hope plan of 1887 responsibility for design and 
demand shared the general concentration in the 
hands of the Commander-in-Chief as head of the 
new Military Department; but when that depart- 
ment was split again in the changes of 1895 "war- 
like stores, patterns and inventions" were allotted 
to one of the five great officers then known as 
Inspector-General of Ordnance. An Order in Council 
of 1899 substituted the title "Director-General" and 
added the charge of the Ordnance Factories; and 
finally with the Esher Reports came the very appro- 
priate revival of the ancient name of "Master- 

Of the Master-General's four directors the first, 
the Director of Artillery, deals with all natures of 
artillery and ammunition from coast-defence equip- 
ments to mortars, with small arms and machine guns, 
and with the problems of modern research in those 
fields; while the second, the Director of Mechan- 
isation, has similar functions in regard to engineer 
and signal stores as well as in regard to mechanised 
vehicles. In the following outline, as a matter of 
convenience, the two sets of duties are treated 


The development of our modern weapons is a 
subject both lengthy and highly technical, but a few 
points are of general interest. The smooth-bore gun 
used at the Crimea, a solid casting of iron or bronze 
with its round projectile loaded at the muzzle, was 
a weapon simple to understand, if troublesome to 
operate. The modern 1 8-pounder gun comprises over 
1 20 parts, while its operation is exceedingly simple. 
The scientific construction of guns may be said to 
date from 1859, when Lord Armstrong invented a 
rifled cannon which not only was loaded at the 
breech but, instead of being a solid casting, was 
built up of coils of wrought-iron shrunk on to a tube 
of steel. Neither steel, however, nor breech-loading 
found favour for long with the experts of the day, 
but the new system of "building up" enabled enor- 
mous weapons to be made weighing 81 tons and 
100 tons, which were still muzzle-loaders and made 
of wrought-iron. The notable point is that breech- 
loading was tried and rejected for the time being. It 
was not until 1883-85 that an all-steel breech-loading 
gun, a i2-pounder of 7 cwt., made a first appearance 
in Army use as the arm of the Horse and the Field 
Artillery, and was received, we are told,* with paeans 
of praise. The first breech-loading field-howitzer 
appeared in 1895. 

Meanwhile a smokeless propellant had arrived, 
the new "cordite" replacing gunpowder; and the 
quick-firing gun came on the scene. Rearmament 
was delayed by the Boer War, but the Secretary 
of State in 1904 announced a scheme costing 
3,000,000 for providing new quick-firing guns 

* Note 17, page 346. 


for both the Horse and the Field Artillery. In 
1914 our movable armament consisted of these two 
quick-firing guns (the 13-pounder and the 18- 
pounder), the 4.5 and 6-inch howitzers, and the 
6o-pounder for heavy batteries. The extreme range 
of our field artillery at that date was approximately 
five miles. 

As regards small arms, the story begins with the 
hand-gun or arquebus, a weapon extremely clumsy 
to handle, the user supporting one end while a stick 
in the ground supported the muzzle. Used first, it 
appears, in the Wars of the Roses, it probably caused 
more oaths than damage. However, in the days of 
Henry VIII the hand-gun was superseding the 
bow; but although it then possessed a stock, it had 
not ceased to be most unwieldy, its muzzle still 
requiring a prop. Indeed at this time the musketeer 
encumbered as he was with a pouch for bullets, 
fine powder for priming, coarse powder for the 
charge, and a piece of slow-match lit at both ends 
could fire perhaps 1 2 shots in an hour and required 
an escort of pikemen to guard him. The rate of fire 
improved slowly, and by the time of James I (1603- 
25) the arms of the Foot were the musket and pike 
in approximately equal proportions, while the Horse 
were armed with a weighty pistol. Next, the extremely 
dangerous method of igniting the powder by means 
of a match gave way to the spark produced by friction, 
and the match-lock slowly went out of use ; the flint- 
lock began to replace the pike, and the hand-grenade 
made its appearance, carried, as Evelyn tells in his 
Diary, by "a new sort of soldier called grenadiers." 
The regiments armed with the flint-lock musket were 


given the name "Fusiliers," derived from a Spanish 
word for flint. But now the bayonet came into use; 
and by the dawn of the eighteenth century pikes and 
grenades were ceasing to be carried, and the musket 
and bayonet held the field. 

In the next hundred years there was little change: 
the "Brown Bess" used at Waterloo was practically 
the same as the flint-lock musket that was used 
by Marlborough's troops at Blenheim: its effective 
range was 50 yards. Meanwhile, however, on the 
Continent elementary rifles had come into use. The 
new invention, a rifled musket, was carried by 
some of Napoleon's corps; and in fact in this 
country in the year 1800 a Rifle Corps, specially 
formed, had been given this new "arm of pre- 
cision"; but the old smooth-bore was the general 
weapon. Next came the invention of the percussion 
cap, and the early years of the reign of Victoria 
witnessed the conversion of "Brown Bess" from 
flint-lock to percussion firing. It remained a most 
unreliable weapon. Then just before the Crimean 
War, as a result of years of experiment, a new rifle 
was introduced with a range of about 900 yards 
which, in the words of The Times correspondent, 
"smote the enemy like a destroying angel"; and the 
smooth-bore musket was doomed at last. 

This rifle, which came to be known as the Enfield, 
was still, however, a muzzle-loader. It was the suc- 
cess of the Prussians, when they fought Denmark 
using their so-called "needle-gun," that settled the 
fate of muzzle-loading and led to conversion to 
breech-loading in 1866-68. The next big step the 
repeating rifle was due to American invention. 


England adopted the Lee-Metford, with a magazine 
carrying 8 rounds; cordite followed in 1891 and the 
Lee-Enfield in 1895, an( ^ the tatter was the type, in 
general principles, of our standard rifle in the Great 

The machine gun was also an American invention. 
The Navy first adopted the Catling, and a few 
of these guns were used by the Army in the Zulu 
War of 1879; but they were outclassed by the 
Maxim gun invented in 1883. The Maxim was first 
introduced to the Army in the year 1891, and to the 
German army in 1899. The Vickers model as used 
in the Great War was a modernised version of the 
Maxim pattern. 

Turning to the task of the present day as shared 
by the Directors of Artillery and of Mechanisation, 
the great and primary responsibility which rests 
upon the Master-General of the Ordnance is to see 
that the Army is adequately provided in the whole 
range of military equipments which are generally 
known as "warlike stores." 

And how vast is the change from the "good old 
days' '1 The complexity of the weapons of to-day 
hardly requires to be emphasised. Delicate sighting 
and range-finding instruments and a further mass 
of intricate devices are the normal accompaniments 
of modern artillery. Anti-aircraft defence, to quote 
an instance, includes the use of elaborate apparatus 
apart from the modern searchlight plant. Incident- 
ally, defence from the ground, as opposed to defence 
in the air itself, is the task of the Army, not of the 
Air Force, and the development of the modern 
instruments, such as sound-locators and predictors, 


falls in the province of the "M.G.O." (A sound- 
locator is an invention which detects and locates 
the approach of aircraft; and a predictor is an 
ingenious instrument which provides automatic 
adjustments of angles enabling the gun to be 
ranged on the target not a simple feat for a 
gunner to face when the target is moving high 
up in the air at, say, three times the pace of an ex- 
press train.) Thus guns of all natures, rifles, machine 
guns, ammunition, tanks, tracked and wheeled 
transport, chemical defence appliances, optical in- 
struments, bridging equipment, wireless stores in 
fact the whole range of technical apparatus which 
goes to equip a modern army form a field of work 
for these two directors which grows in intricacy 
every year; and the first part of their responsibility 
may be summed up in the three words Research, 
Design and Experiment. 

The British Army, small in size, must at least be 
highly scientific, and a clear duty which falls to 
the War Office is to keep abreast or ahead of modern 
developments in every department of war material. 
The place of research and experiment in the kind 
of problems which confront the department might 
be illustrated by the case of tanks. Just as the 
weapons of early days were countered by the 
wearing of armour, and armour in its turn be- 
came quite useless and ultimately was discarded 
in face of the bullet, so the modern machine 
gun produced the tank, the tank produces an anti- 
tank weapon, and an anti-tank gun will produce 
. . . what? Sixteen years have passed since the War 
and a role which was successful then cannot now be 


accepted blindly. Improvements in speed, armour, 
fire-power, radius of action and wireless control 
would seem to make it a simple task to produce the 
ideal fighting machine; but meanwhile the experts 
of all the world turn their attention to automatic 
weapons capable of piercing the tank's defences, 
The obvious counter is thicker armour: but thicker 
armour means greater weight and greater weight 
means less speed. Keep up the speed with more 
powerful engines and you have a machine which is 
vastly expensive, which takes perhaps nine months 
to make and which, owing to its increased compli- 
cation, has probably lost the important quality of 
being easy to repair and maintain in the field. A 
new question is then presented is it better to rely 
on a few powerful tanks, or a much larger number of 
lighter vehicles which have greater speed and radius 
of action but are less formidably armed and less well 

Problems of similar complication arise over the 
whole field of weapons, and the policy to be pur- 
sued in each case is primarily a matter for the General 
Staff; but when the latter has said what "per- 
formance" it requires in a tank, in a gun, in bridging 
or " wireless, " the devising of the scientific ways 
and means and the translation of these into actual 
stores is a technical task reserved for experts: and 
this is a duty of the "M.G.O." Modern science 
moves very quickly: it affects the whole range of 
munition stores ; and the search for improved efficiency 
can never be allowed to rest. Research, design and 
experiment are, therefore, all-important functions. 

The Director of Artillery has four branches, the 


first of which deals with heavy armaments for coast 
defence and kindred purposes, with anti-aircraft 
guns and instruments, and with the means of defence 
against chemical warfare; the second is concerned 
with Field Army equipments ; and a third with small 
arms and machine guns. The Director of Mechan- 
isation has three: one for engineer and signal stores; 
one for tracked and semi-tracked vehicles such as 
tanks or dragons, and armoured cars (these are 
known as "A" vehicles), and one for mechanical 
wheeled vehicles (these are known as "B" vehicles), 
except the provision of the transport vehicles used 
by the Royal Army Service Corps. In passing, the 
"dragon" -pulls the gun, as distinct from the fighting 
vehicles proper, which are the tank and the armoured 
car. The Director of Artillery's fourth branch is the 
linking section of the whole department, and also 
deals with inventions and patents and administers 
an important array of establishments concerned with 
research, design and experiment. These latter func- 
tions are managed as follows : 

First there are six advisory Committees. The 
Ordnance Committee is a joint body of experts which 
looks to all the three Fighting Services to set the 
problems with which it deals. It advises on matters 
of construction and design of guns, ammunition and 
explosives generally, and the progress of science in 
these fields. The Small Arms Committee and the 
Chemical Defence Committee again advise the 
Services jointly. The remaining three serve the 
Army only. The Royal Artillery Committee advises 
on artillery equipment the gun-carriage, buffers, 
sights, etc. The R.E. Board deals with engineering as 


applied to the work of the Royal Engineers and the 
needs of the Royal Corps of Signals. The newly 
named Mechanisation Board is concerned, of course, 
with mechanical vehicles. These Committees are 
assisted, in most cases, by eminent civilian scientists 
who serve on them in an honorary capacity. They 
constitute an invaluable link with the world of 
thought outside the Services and the progress of 
modern invention generally. They advise on experi- 
ments: they are told what the Services desire to 
achieve and they control the work of the establish- 
ments which actually carry out the experiments. 

The purely scientific research problems and the 
work of designing the actual stores are handled by 
other technical bodies. Thus the Research Depart- 
ment, situated at Woolwich, has branches for re- 
search in metallurgy, explosives, radiology and 
ballistics, which work under civilian heads of high 
scientific qualifications; and the Chemical Defence 
Research Department has an establishment at 
Porton near Salisbury, a smaller station at Sutton 
Oak (Lanes.), and Research centres at the univer- 
sities, where the problems involved in protection 
from gas are the special business of expert staffs. 
These two, again, are joint establishments, working 
for all the three Services; and so also is the Design 
Department which translates the work of the 
Advisory Committees and the findings of the Research 
departments into actual drawings and specifications. 
The latter task involves original design, development 
as a result of trials, and final drawings to govern 
production, and covers, of course, the whole field of 
munitions guns, gun-carriages and mountings, 


small arms, tanks, all classes of vehicles, and am- 
munition and allied stores. In the matter of "A" and 
"B" vehicles a great deal of design-work is done by 
the Trade, by such firms, for example, as Vickers- 
Armstrongs and Morris. 

As regards the work of experiment, there are 
eight "experimental establishments/' The Research 
Department has a special section called the "Proof 
and Experimental Establishment" which carries out 
the "proof" of guns and carriages, propellants, 
cartridge cases, etc., and in the course of the tests 
made at the proof-butts assists in the work of ballistic 
research. The trials of guns which involve firings at 
long range are conducted by another establishment, 
"the Experimental Establishment" at Shoeburyness, 
where the wide expanses of sand and water provide 
unique facilities for testing explosives and armour- 
plate and the performance of guns and ammunition. 
A third, the Experimental Station at Porton, deals 
with stores for chemical defence. In these establish- 
ments all three Services are represented on the 

The remaining five are purely Army concerns, 
though available to the other Services. The Small 
Arms and Machine Gun Experimental Establish- 
ment is at Hythe. For experiments with mechanised 
vehicles the establishment is at Farnborough; for 
air-defence stores, such as searchlights, there is a 
special station at Biggin Hill (Kent); for signal 
stores at Woolwich; and for bridging equipment 
at Christchurch (Hants). The last three are con- 
trolled by the R.E. Board and combine the work 
of experiment and design: indeed, throughout the 


whole range of stores, whether engineering or other 
types, the distinction between research and experi- 
ment, and again between experiment and design, 
cannot in practice be perfectly clear-cut. These 
functions merge into each other. The other general 
point to be noted is the joint use made of the same 
establishments whenever that course is economical. 
As a rule the Army is the predominant partner, but 
in a few cases such as Optical Research, where naval 
interests are the largest, the War Office makes a cash 
contribution in aid of an Admiralty institution. 

The tale of establishments is not yet complete. 
When research, design, experiment and trials have 
resulted finally in manufacture there still remains 
a vital function the inspection of the completed 
store by an independent inspecting authority. There 
are four Inspection departments in all: the Chief 
Inspector of Armaments (Woolwich); the Chief 
Inspector of Small Arms (Enfield); the Chief In- 
spector of R.E. Stores (Woolwich); and the War 
Department Chemist (Woolwich); and the total 
number of civilian workers employed under the 
Inspecting staffs is about 2,350. 

Inspection is of several kinds: of new stores 
before acceptance, of damaged stores which require 
repair, and the periodical inspection of stores in 
the Service, including reserves. Over half a million 
gauges are used by the Chief Inspector of Arma- 
ments, and these are made in most cases to a very 
delicate measure of accuracy three to five io,oooths 
of an inch. The plain fact is that with warlike stores, 
especially in the case of guns and ammunition, the 
risk of mistakes cannot be taken; but the large size 


of the Inspection departments is not wholly due to 
that cause. The technical facilities possessed by these 
departments are specially adapted for other services: 
for example, the repair of gun ammunition can often 
be carried out most economically at the time when 
the stocks are under inspection ; and this is one duty 
of "C.I./i." Other duties include technical advice, 
the preparation of the drawings and specifications 
which are issued for the use of contractors, and the 
drafting of the handbooks and regulations which 
govern the use of stores in service. The list of com- 
ponents of the medium tank is a large book of 
drawings and details containing about 2,500 items. 
Lastly, the Military College of Science, an edu- 
cational establishment, is also administered by the 
"M.G.O." This was originally the Artillery College, 
which changed its name to the "Ordnance College" 
and then back to the "Artillery College," and was 
finally re-christened in 1927. A sound foundation of 
scientific knowledge is becoming increasingly im- 
portant in the Army, and the College is open to all 
arms for courses in physics, chemistry, mathematics, 
and all subjects essential to training in science as 
applied to artillery, mechanised traction and the use 
of modern equipments generally. The teaching is 
concerned with theory and principles: the actual 
use of the various equipments is studied in courses 
at the schools of instruction (the Coast Artillery 
School, for example) which are under the direction 
of the General Staff. The average number of students 
at the College was estimated for 1934 at 75 officers 
and 305 "other ranks"; and another side of the 
work there is the technical training of apprentice 


artificers for the Royal Artillery about 150 boys 
in 1934. 

One of the "D. of A.'s" branches deals, as men- 
tioned above, with inventions, and not all of these 
have the same simplicity, the same attractive boldness 
of conception that characterised a certain idea which 
was offered to the department in pre-war days. This 
was nothing less than a brilliant plan to make 
London safe from attack from the air, and a promi- 
nent newspaper commented scathingly on the crass 
obtuseness of War Office soldiers who had merely 
acknowledged the inventor's letters in place of dis- 
playing a suitable interest. But the Press had not 
seen the inventor's papers. The idea, which was 
naturally very secret, was to manufacture a gigantic 
umbrella composed of mesh of the best steel and to 
open it neatly above the metropolis. Somehow or 
other it never matured. 

One duty, then, of the "M.G.O." is that of keep- 
ing abreast of the march of science in the matter of 
the Army's weapons; but a second heavy responsi- 
bility is concerned with the problem of reserve of 

Ammunition provides an illustration. In the event 
of war there must always be a gap between the 
moment when the troops first take the field, carry- 
ing with them a first supply, and the time when 
supplies can be manufactured and can reach the 
troops in sufficient amount to balance the actual rate 
of consumption. Supplies sufficient to bridge that 
gap, in addition to the first supply, should obviously 
be held in peace. In the case of a store which could 
be bought "over the counter" the problem would 


hardly exist at all : but the case of warlike stores is 
different, for a gun may take many months to make ; 
ammunition, which also takes time to make, is 
likely to be consumed in vast quantities ; and similar 
considerations affect the whole list from guns and 
tanks to rifle ammunition. (How important it is to 
use motor machines of which the spare parts are 
interchangeable and are readily obtainable from 
commercial sources can be understood in this con- 
nection.) Where stores take many weeks to produce 
reserves adequate to bridge the gap must be bought 
and stored at great cost, and thus it is a problem of 
extreme importance to hold the minimum stocks of 
reserves consistent with what may be called "safety." 
The responsibility involved is very great. On broad 
questions of policy, such as the maximum scale of 
emergency for which the Army must be prepared, 
the responsibility rests with the Government and 
Governments have fallen before now as a result of 
disclosures as to "missing" reserves but within the 
scope of the policy prescribed by the Government 
the Army Council are responsible collectively that 
reserves shall be held of a certain size; and the 
"M.G.O." is the expert concerned who advises as 
to ways and means and is responsible for the actual 
provision and holding. One point that is not always 
well understood is that ammunition is not a store 
which, once manufactured, can simply be stocked; 
it possesses parts that are perishable: and a second 
point to be noted is this that when a store is a new 
development, as a tank or a wireless equipment 
might be, and at the same time is extremely costly, 
the War Office has to make up its mind how far, 


with its very restricted means, it will invest in stocks 
which in two years' time may prove to have been 

Thus the problem of reserves is far from simple ; 
and, quite apart from questions of fixity of design 
or the cost involved in the provision of the stocks, 
all changes in manufacturing capacity, whether 
in the Trade or in the Government factories, alter 
the data for calculating what quantities can be 
made available ; while all changes in the requirements 
of the troops alter the data on the other side. Special 
machinery is employed in the War Office to deal 
with this very vital question, and a small section 
under the "D. of A." provides a permanent "secre- 
tariat" which collates the data on each class of store 
for periodical review. 

The third Director is the "D.O.S." who controls 
the business of Ordnance Services, which is carried 
out in the local Commands by the Royal Army 
Ordnance Corps and a staff of some 7,000 civilians. 

The word "ordnance" is used confusingly. Nor- 
mally "ordnance" suggests guns, but "ordnance 
stores," in military language, are all stores of any 
kind which are handled by the Royal Army Ordnance 
Corps, and these range from a toothbrush or a nail 
to tanks or guns of the heaviest natures, and indeed 
include most kinds of military stores. 

To appreciate the scope of Ordnance services the 
reader should bear in mind a distinction between 
"maintenance" work and "provision" work. Storage, 
issue and local repair mav be said to constitute 


"maintenance"; and this is a duty of the "D.O.S." 
in respect of the whole range of stores. Thus one 
side of Ordnance work is the storekeeping of all 
equipment, and its care and repair in peace and 
war. But another side concerns "provision/* the 
ordering of the stores required. Other Directors, 
as already noted, are responsible for providing guns, 
ammunition, vehicles and building stores, but 
"D.O.S." has certain "provision" duties which he 
carries out on their behalf; while in the case of 
the stores which are called "general," and also of 
all clothing stores, the "D.O.S." not only is the 
storekeeper but is responsible for their provision 
from first to last. "General stores" include camp 
equipment, harness and saddlery, accoutrements, 
tools, barrack and hospital equipment and all stores 
that are not technical. (In War Office language the 
distinction is simpler since the stores are bought 
under separate Votes, as shown in the Army 
Estimates. Thus warlike stores are "Vote 9 stores," 
building stores are "Vote 10," general stores are 
"Vote 8," and clothing stores are "Vote 7.") 

In both duties, "maintenance" and "provision," 
the D.O.S. has a large task. The function of "main- 
tenance" is carried out locally in Ordnance depots 
and Ordnance workshops and the number of items 
held in the depots is an indication of the range of 
the work: the number of different parts of tanks 
and dragons adds up to some 30,000 alone, and the 
number of items in the whole list runs into several 
hundreds of thousands. There are six Central Ord- 
nance Depots, of which the largest are at Woolwich 
and Didcot, administered by the "D.O.S." through 


a Deputy Director at Woolwich Arsenal. There are 
also 33 depots in the Commands which issue stores 
direct to the troops, and 30 local Ordnance work- 
shops which carry out larger (but not "factory") 
repairs which the units cannot do for themselves. In 
these days, it need hardly be said, workshops are 
becoming more and more vital and Ordnance 
Mechanical Engineers an increasingly important 
body of officers. As regards "provision," the largest 
task for the Ordnance is the adjustment of the stocks 
required of each of many thousands of stores to keep 
pace with current demands and to keep reserves at 
their right level. Here again the agent of "D.O.S." 
is the Deputy Director at Woolwich, who in this 
sense of "provision" work is practically a universal 
provider. Thus in the current provision of artillery 
stores he acts on behalf of the "D. of A.," and of 
(say) tank-parts for the "D. of M.," while in the case 
of general stores and clothing he is acting directly 
for "D.O.S." The task of the War Office in these 
spheres lies in general control and policy. 

Among these duties of "D.O.S." is the preparation 
of the equipment tables which prescribe the exact 
stores to be held by every unit throughout the Army, 
and the assembly, storage and turnover of the stores 
which will be required in case of emergency. In war, 
as in peace, the R.A.O.C. holds and is responsible 
for the bulk handling of practically all the stores of 
the Army. (The point up to which the R.A.O.C. is 
responsible for delivering stores in the field is, 
generally speaking, the rail-head. From that point 
R.A.S.C. transport carries the stores up to the 


To deal with the control of this work the "D.O.S." 
has four branches, apart from the Ordnance office 
at Woolwich. One administers the military personnel 
in conjunction with the Adjutant-General (as in the 
case of the R.A.S.C.); is responsible for their tech- 
nical training through the medium of a School of 
Instruction; and deals with the Ordnance civilian 
staff. A second is concerned with "general stores"; 
a third with mechanical engineering and the repair 
of technical equipments ; and the fourth with organ- 
isation for war, reserves, and the business of dress 
and clothing. 

The past history of store-holding is a tortuous and 
intricate tale, but one or two points can be stated 

The story begins with the Board of Ordnance 
which in early times held all stores. A sixteenth- 
century list, for example, mentions not only "shot, 
corn-powder, . . . match and all other munitions, as 
fireworks, bows, arrows, strings, pikes, bills, halberds" 
and so on, but also "all kinds of necessaries, that is 
to say ladders, ladles and sponges for artillery, 
mattocks, spades, shovels, pick-axes, crows of iron, 
. . . lights, lanterns, candles and links." Later 
the Board concerned itself mainly with its own 
"scientific" offspring who developed into the gun- 
ners and sappers ; and indeed in the course of the 
Napoleonic Wars several new departments were 
brought into being (for example, the Barrackmaster- 
General and the Military Storekeeper-General) to 
perform services for the rest of the Army which the 
Board carried out for its own corps; but these dis- 
appeared after Waterloo and the duties returned to 


the Ordnance office. The stores held in 1831 were 
valued at 7,000,000. 

When Wellington was Master-General (1818-27) 
we know from his Ordnance Regulations that the 
Board was intended to be responsible in the field 
for the holding and issue of all stores ; but we also 
know that in the Crimean War this intention was 
not carried out in practice. At the Crimea there was 
no one central Stores authority until, by a great 
but belated reform in the autumn of 1855, the 
stores held by the Quarter-Master-General, the 
Artillery train, the Engineers, the Purveyor and 
the Transport train were all taken over and "cen- 
tralised" in the hands of a single Ordnance Store- 
keeper. This was the year when the Board of 
Ordnance at home was absorbed into the new War 
Office. It was the birth of a new era. The Board 
had been a civil concern which held its stores very 
tightly, possibly because it was considered to be 
dangerous for the standing Army to possess such 
stores ; but now it was only a matter of time for the 
new "Military Stores Department," responsible to 
the Secretary of State, to become a military organis- 
ation. First, in 1861, the officers of the department 
were given commissions; next, in 1865, a corps of 
"other ranks" was formed; and after many changes 
of titles, amalgamations and re-organisations both 
outside and within the War Office, and the addition 
of a corps of armourers and, later, of Inspectors of 
Ordnance Machinery, the custodians of Army 
stores emerged as the Army Ordnance Department 
controlling an array of civilian storekeepers and also 
an Army Ordnance Corps consisting of military 


"other ranks." These were placed by the Esher 
Reforms under the administration of the "Q.M.G.," 
and this was the position in 1914. The amalgamation 
into a single corps, with the title "Royal," took 
place in November, 1918. 

The control of the patterns and the supply of 
clothing is a part-duty, as mentioned above, of one 
ofthe"D.O.S." branches. 

The fact that it is only a part-duty is significant 
of changed conditions. Time was when extremely 
elaborate uniforms and meticulous niceties of 
decoration were considered to be vastly important: 
to-day the wearing of full dress is confined to the 
Household Cavalry, the Brigade of Guards and 
regimental bands, and the normal "service dress" 
of the Army is designed to be strictly workmanlike. 

Distinctive dress for the fighting man was adopted 
in very early days with the hope of terrifying the 
enemy, protecting the body or distinguishing the 
troops ; but by the dawn of the eighteenth century 
such practical motives had been discarded. It is 
true that the resplendent garb and the minute 
precision in details of dress, the ruffles, lace, 
cockades and so on, imposed on the Army from 
this time onwards, were based to some extent at 
least on the supposed moral effect on the wearer. 
The Prussian-derived love of display which pro- 
duced the most elaborate garments originally 
possessed a psychological object; the soldier who 
wore such a fine uniform would hesitate to be less 
than brave : but the dress of the post- Waterloo era, 
unthinkably tight and uncomfortable and utterly 
unsuited for fighting work, carried tradition to crazy 


lengths. The modern attention to health and 
comfort dates, like so many other improvements, 
from the sufferings borne by the troops at the 
Crimea. The traditional British red coat was finally 
abolished, except for ceremonial purposes, in the 
year 1902. 

One or two further historical points may possibly 
be of interest. The wearing of red was confined to 
the Army, apart from the Royal Family and servants, 
in the year 1698; and in 1742 all regiments wore 
red with the exception of the Horse Guards and the 
Artillery. Until about the latter date there had been 
no difference in general style between military and 
civilian dress. The three-cornered hat of the eigh- 
teenth century was modelled on the prevailing 
fashion in which we may picture Johnson or Garrick : 
it gave place to the shako in 1800. Knee-breeches, 
stockings and shoes disappeared in favour of 
trousers and boots as late as 1823. The red coat was 
last worn in the field at the battle of Ginnis in 1885. 
It was worn deliberately on that occasion with the 
hope of impressing the Dervishes; for the khaki 
originally adopted in India had been worn in hot 
climates for some years past. 

As regards the system, the soldier was clothed by 
his colonel from the first beginning of the standing 
Army to the time of the Crimean War. The cost 
was deducted from the soldier's pay and the colonel 
derived as much profit as he could. Marlborough, 
that great administrator, established a Board of 
General Officers who were to supervise the provision 
of clothing by every colonel to sealed patterns ; but 
in later days the Board grew lax, its inspection of 


samples became a farce, and both colonels and 
contractors made handsome profits while the soldier 
suffered and paid highly. Then, in the Crimean 
changes, the Board and the colonels' financial 
interests were abolished at the same time: the pro- 
vision of clothing and equipment was taken over by 
the Secretary of State, and a Director of Clothing 
became responsible for everything hitherto found by 
the regiment. The Clothing Department at Pimlico 
was opened in 1859, and was enlarged to include a 
factory, where the State could make its own uniforms, 
in 1863. 

Meanwhile the clothing, except the greatcoat, was 
still the soldier's own property, since the cost was 
a charge against his pay. This principle was aban- 
doned in 1 88 1, and the provision of clothing as 
State property gave rise to a mass of most intricate 
regulations which were modified and re-modified 
until the modern system was introduced. The great- 
coat is still " public clothing," but the remainder of 
the soldier's kit is divided into "personal clothing" 
such as boots, caps, jackets and trousers, and 
"necessaries" such as razors and brushes, socks, 
underclothing and so on. The soldier starts with a 
free kit, and thereafter receives a money allowance 
sufficient to pay for replacement and washing. The 
system works well and encourages thrift. The annual 
cost of clothing of an Infantry soldier after the year 
of his first outfit is calculated in the Estimates for 
1934 at 6 155. 4d. The clothing is now wholly 
made by the Trade under orders placed by the 
Contracts department. This recent change will be 
mentioned later. 


The responsibility for Army clothing was trans- 
ferred to the military side of the War Office in 1 899. 
It was assigned to theQuarter-Master-General in the 
Esher Reforms of 1 904, and was only transferred to 
the "M.G.O." as part of the duty of Ordnance 
Services in the change of 1927. The task of "pro- 
vision" is not wholly simple. The proportion required 
of each size of garment has to be kept under constant 
review, for the brilliant suggestion which was once 
offered to abolish much unnecessary complication 
by accepting recruits of one size only has never 
appealed to the Adjutant-General whose task it is to 
find the men. Further, there are two stages both of 
storage and of inspection, since the materials for 
made-up clothing are first purchased in bulk by the 
War Office and are then issued as required to con- 
tractors who "make up" the garments to sealed 
patterns. The patterns include such small details as 
the threads, buttons and hooks to be used. 

Another recurrent task for the War Office is the re- 
calculation of the clothing allowance. This must vary, 
of course, with the cost of the articles in such a way 
as to be fair to both sides to the soldier who has to 
replace his clothing and to the taxpayer who provides 
the money. More interesting, perhaps, is the constant 
attempt to improve the kit in quality or comfort, 
and to lighten the weight to be carried in the field. 
The Infantry soldier at the Crimea carried, in full 
marching order, a total weight of nearly 64 lb.: the 
parallel figure for the soldier of to-day, including his 
steel helmet and respirator but not including his 
greatcoat, would be just under 53lb. This may be 
reduced still further as a result of experiments now 


proceeding. The so-called "new uniform," of which 
mention has been made in Parliament and the Press, 
is a new type of service dress for use on field training 
or active service. It has nothing to do with the normal 
dress in which the soldier is seen in peace-time. 

The actual production of munition stores is shared 
between contracts placed with the Trade and orders 
given to the Ordnance Factories, and the latter are 
administered by the "M.G.O." through hisjburth 
Director, the "D.O.F." 

The Royal Ordnance Factories consist of the 

At Woolwich. The Royal Ammunition Factory, 
the Royal Filling Factory, and the Royal Gun and 
Carriage Factory, with an Engineering and Building 
Works Department which serves the whole of the 
Arsenal and Dockyard area. 

At Enfield Lock. The Royal Small Arms Fac- 

At Waltham Abbey. The Royal Gunpowder 

There is also a reserve establishment at Hereford, 
and "pivotal plant centres" at Blackpole (Worcester- 
shire), Birtley (Durham) and Irvine (Ayrshire). The 
three latter contain plant which would be brought 
into use on emergency. 

The factories execute the orders of the Service 
Departments, as well as of India, the Dominions and 
the Colonies, for guns, mountings, rifles, ammu- 
nition, tanks, vehicles, bombs and other warlike 
stores. They are also largely used for repair work 


which is beyond the capacity of local repair shops.The 
average numbers employed for the five years 1929 
to 1933 were 7,188 at Woolwich, 940 at Enfield, 
and 292 at Waltham Abbey. 

The Woolwich factories are, of course, the oldest. 
In Tudor times the Warren at Woolwich was a 
desolate expanse of scrub and marsh on which stood 
a manor called Tower Place. Batteries were built 
there in 1667 as a protection against the Dutch 
fleet, and in 1 68 1 butts for the proving of guns were 
erected, and sheds for carriages are mentioned. A 
laboratory for the making of fireworks was built in 
1696. The casting of cannon, both brass and iron, 
was in private hands until Maryborough's days when 
a terrible accident in Mr. Bagley's foundry, where 
the guns which the Duke had captured from the 
French were being re-cast to make new ordnance, 
resulted in the building of the Royal Foundry on 
Woolwich Warren in 1716. 

This factory at first cast bronze guns only, all 
iron cannon being made by contract. Then Wool- 
wich began to grow quickly. Tower Place was 
rebuilt by Sir John Vanbrugh, the architect who 
designed Blenheim; and was first the headquarters 
of the new Artillery, and later (1741) the Royal 
Military Academy. The Laboratory must have 
been a small affair, for a Controller, Firemaster 
and other staff were appointed in 1746 in order that 
by this means "the art of making fireworks for real 
use, as well as for triumph, may be again recovered/' 
By the year 1 8 10 the area of the Warren had been in- 
creased by about 100 acres, and the Foundry and the 
Laboratory were surrounded by a mass of buildings 


barracks, store-sheds, proof-butts and ranges. 
Its new name, "The Royal Arsenal," was given in 
1805 on the occasion of a visit from King George 
III. It was not until the Crimean era, upon the 
introduction of the Armstrong gun, that the Gun 
Factory was rebuilt for the manufacture of wrought- 
iron cannon. 

Waltham Abbey is next in age. The Board of 
Ordnance did not make gunpowder till the year 
1759, when a mill was established at Faversham. 
The powder works at Waltham were established in 

Enfield, the small arms factory, only became 
an important centre when the Enfield rifle was 
introduced on the eve of the Crimean War. Muskets 
were supplied entirely by the Trade up to 1804-1 1 
when, under the stress of the great French war, 
the Government started some small factories which 
were concentrated at Enfield Lock; but the coming 
of peace delayed their expansion, and the Enfield 
staff in 1823 had dwindled to 42 men in all. How- 
ever, in 1854 the factory started on a new career. 
Muskets had been made by a number of firms, and 
the parts of one might not fit another ; but with the 
advent of the rifle the principle was adopted that the 
parts must be interchangeable, and Enfield was 
wholly reorganised to secure precision of manu- 
facture. The first machine-made rifles and bayonets 
were produced in 1858. 

Responsibility for the Ordnance Factories re- 
mained on the civil side of the War Office from the 
time when the Board of Ordnance was abolished (to 
the year 1899. When the factories were placed on a 


commercial footing in 1887-88, a Director-General 
was appointed at Woolwich who was under the 
Financial Secretary: by an Order in Council of 1899 
he was renamed Chief Superintendent and passed to 
military control. In the late war the control of the 
factories was taken over by the Ministry of Muni- 
tions in June 1916, and finally returned to the 
"M.G.O." on May ist, 1921. 

The maintenance of these Government factories 
is a form of insurance against the risks of war. The 
principle is to lessen such risks by preserving the 
minimum of plant and of skill which would enable 
production to be expanded adequately if the State 
were faced with an emergency. The alternative would 
be to leave the possibilities of expansion entirely in 
the hands of private enterprise. There are also the 
important aspects to be considered that the factories 
set a standard of quality and provide a check on Trade 
prices. As matters stand, manufacture of armament 
stores for the three Services is shared between the 
Ordnance Factories and Trade firms; and the allo- 
cation of available work is not without its own prob- 
lems, since, when current orders are cut to a minimum 
under pressure of financial stringency, the Depart- 
ments stand between two claims: the Factories 
demanding sufficient orders to employ at least their 
minimum staff, and the Trade expecting a fair share 
in return for the help which they give to the Govern- 

The Factories are run generally on a commercial 
basis, charging their customers full cost, and are 
managed by civilian heads a Superintendent for 
each of them, a Chief Mechanical Engineer, and a 


Chief Superintendent at the Royal Arsenal, all of 
whom are responsible to the "D.O.F." Design and 
invention, as explained previously, are the business 
of "M.G.O's." military branches. 

The responsibilities of the "D.O.F." can be ex- 
pressed under three headings : the administration and 
control of the factories; the actual production in 
those factories of war material of all kinds; and the 
regulation of the labour employed. It is his business 
to see that the Ordnance Factories are in the highest 
attainable state of efficiency in organisation, methods 
and equipment for their peace functions and their 
war functions. 

There are very few industrial undertakings 
which cover so varied a range of production. The 
forging, casting and machining of ferrous materials 
in the manufacture of every type of product from 
big guns to the smallest components; the making 
and use of non-ferrous alloys for fuses, cartridge- 
cases, etc.; engineering, carpentry, saddlery, textile 
work, the making of explosives and the filling of 
shells, are included in the ambit of O.F. production. 
Further, work which extends from the sewing of 
shalloon to the turning of large naval guns in- 
volves almost every grade of labour, and the watching 
of the conditions of labour under the critical eye of 
the Trades Unions is one part, and a heavy part, of 
the task which falls to "D.O.F." At the same time 
"D.O.F." must secure that the stroke of the work 
is not less fast than in any comparable outside 
industry. The administration, lay-out and equipment 
must be kept in line with the best modern practice, 
The rapid improvement of recent years in machine- 


tools, to quote one instance, must be followed up by 
the Factories; and another essential modern develop- 
ment is the accurate costing of every process. A very 
grave responsibility rests on the Master-General of 
the Ordnance to ensure that a certain productive 
capacity shall be forthcoming in case of need; and 
the primary task of the "D.O.F." is to secure that 
the Government Factories shall be up to date and 
fitted for their allotted role. 

He also assists in the cognate problem concerned 
with production from Trade sources. In the latter 
connection there is a sub-branch which studies and 
prepares manufacturing plans for increasing output 
in case of emergency. 

The organisation of the Department as a whole is 
summed up in a diagram. As there shown, a special 
Finance branch is attached to the Master-General of 
the Ordnance, as in the case of the "Q.M.G."; and, 
excluding this branch, the staff at the War Office 
consisted on April ist, 1934, of 57 officers, serving 
or retired, a civilian Director and Assistant Director, 
100 military and civilian clerks, and 5 Technical 
Staff civilians. The officers include the Inspector of 
Army Ordnance Services, who is directly responsible 
to the "M.G.O." 


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O 55 

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Chapter X 

THE duties of the four large military departments 
which serve the Military Members of Council have 
been set out briefly in the last four chapters without 
more than one or two passing allusions either to the 
functions of Ministers or to the financial and secre- 
tarial business of the large permanent civil division 
controlled by the Permanent Under-Secretary of State. 
This order of mention has been chosen for con- 
venience; and the reader will understand, of course, 
that the paramount responsibility rests upon the 
shoulders of the Secretary of State, who is assisted 
in his ministerial capacity by the Parliamentary 
Under-Secretary of State and the Financial Secre- 
tary of the War Office. The position of the two junior 
Ministers and their special departmental duties are 
outlined in the following pages. The position of the 
Secretary of State himself hardly requires to be 
elaborated. His constitutional position has been 
already described. He is responsible to the Crown 
and to Parliament for all the business of the War 
Office. He is President of the Army Council and can 
accept or reject the advice which it offers. In all 
questions which require decision the Secretary of 
State's is the final word. He is also the channel of 
communication between the War Office and the 
Head of the Army the King. 


In connection with the discharge of one side of 
this last function there exists a special military officer, 
independent of the other departments and respon- 
sible directly to the Secretary of State. This is the 
Military Secretary, whose department is thus unique 
and separate. It seems to be clear that this special 
office dates from 1795. In that year the Duke of 
York, 6n his appointment as Commander-in-Chief, 
brought with him Colonel Robert Brownrigg to be 
his "Public Secretary"; and the latter's successor in 
1803 is variously described as "Public Secretary" 
and "Military Secretary to the Commander-in-Chief." 
Thereafter the office remained in being, and was 
doubtless one of great influence, until the Com- 
mander -in-Chief himself disappeared. In the changes 
of 1904 the allegiance of the Military Secretary was 
transferred to the Secretary of State. 

All appointments and promotions of officers, and 
the grants of all honours and rewards to the Army, 
are made by the King. They are made on the recom- 
mendation of the Secretary of State ; and the main 
functions of the Military Secretary are executive 
duties in this connection. 

Promotions and appointments form the bulk of 
the work. The executive duties consist in the sub- 
mission of the names selected and the subsequent 
gazetting of the King's pleasure; but the actual 
selection of the names to be submitted is guarded 
by a careful procedure which aims at securing the 
utmost fairness. The "M.S." does not determine 
selection: he sees that the case for every candidate 
is presented fairly to the selectors. Appointments 
to commands and promotions from the rank of 


Major upwards are recommended by a Selection 
Board, which consists of the Chief of the Imperial 
General Staff (as President), the Adjutant-General, 
and the General Officers Commanding-in-Chief of 
the Aldershot, Eastern and Southern Commands, 
with the "M.S." as Secretary and his Deputy as 
Assistant Secretary. There is another special selection 
board to deal with selections for Staff Appointments, 
and there are "departmental" selection boards con- 
cerned with Medical and Veterinary officers, Army 
Chaplains and Pay Corps officers. The recommenda- 
tions of the various boards are finally approved by 
the Secretary of State. In the case of honours and 
rewards the procedure is different: selection boards 
play no part. Such advice as the Secretary of State 
may require is available in the Members of Council, 
with the Military Secretary as the central link. 

The secretarial and executive duties are organised 
in four branches. The scope of the first is "non- 
regimental." It deals with promotions "outside" the 
regiment, such as promotions to General Officer or 
Colonel; with Army appointments at home and 
abroad; with brevet promotions (which are not regi- 
mental); with the appointment of officers to local 
forces such as the King's African Rifles and the 
Sudan Defence Force, or to special posts in Domin- 
ions and Colonies. It deals also with appeals against 
non-selection. Officers on the active list are permitted 
by the King's Regulations for the Army to interview 
the Military Secretary on such personal questions as 
appointments and promotions, and the principle of 
accessibility is accepted in full by the "M.S." 

The second branch is "regimental." It deals mainly 


with first appointments to commissions; the actual 
preparation and issue of commissions about 2,500 
a year of all classes; and with promotions, retire- 
ments, transfers, etc., of officers on the regimental 
list. A separate section of "M.S. 2" deals with the 
Territorial Army. 

The work connected with honours and rewards, 
which occupies the third branch, falls mainly into 
two groups: honours lists and individual awards. 
Honours lists are either anniversary lists, on the 
King's birthday and at the New Year, or lists 
of rewards for particular campaigns. Possibly the 
reader may not be aware that active service conditions 
have occurred since 1918 in Russia, Turkey, 
Cyprus, Palestine, Egypt, the Sudan, Iraq, Kurdis- 
tan, the North- West Frontier of India, Burma and 
China. The other group, individual rewards, in- 
clude promotions to be Field-Marshal and appoint- 
ments as A.D.C. to the King, as Colonels of regi- 
ments or Colonels Commandant, as Constable of 
the Tower of London and as Governor of Chelsea 
Hospital. For retired officers and other ranks there 
are various rewards in the form of annuities, and 
also in the form of Court appointments. For example, 
the Military Knights of Windsor, who date from 
1348, are chosen, in the words of Queen Elizabeth's 
patent of August, 1559, from "Gentlemen brought 
to necessity, such as have spent their times in the 
service of the wars, garrisons, or other service of 
the Prince." The King's Body Guard of Yeomen 
of the Guard and the Honourable Corps of 
Gentlemen-at-Arms are Court appointments of 
Tudor origin. The latter claim the title of "The 


Nearest Guard," for it is laid down in the charter 
of the Corps that "the Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms, 
whenever we shall command their attendance, shall 
do the duty of Guards nearest to our Royal Person. " 
The Military Secretary's fourth branch is the 
custodian of the confidential reports which are 
rendered on officers during their service. 

In the early nineteenth century the Secretary of 
State for War and the Colonies appointed an Under- 
secretary of State to assist him in his parliamentary 
duties, and the post was continued by Lord Panmure 
when "War" and "the Colonies" were separated in 
the change of 1855. Thereafter each Secretary of 
State for War had the help of a Parliamentary Under- 
secretary of State. The functions of this officer, said 
the Esher Committee, "have hitherto consisted in 
representing the Army in one House of Parliament. 
No specific duties have been assigned to him." The 
"definite work and responsibility" which the Com- 
mittee accordingly assigned to this Minister con- 
sisted of the Barrack Construction directorate, the 
Chaplains' department and the pension Votes; but 
this arrangement did not last. To-day the Par- 
liamentary Under-Secretary of State, apart from his 
duties in Parliament and as Vice-President of the 
Army Council, has two specific charges: the Terri- 
torial Army directorate and the branch of the Comp- 
troller of Lands. 

The former is controlled by a Director-General, 
a military officer of high rank. When the administra- 
tion of the "auxiliary forces" was first transferred in 


1852 from the Home Office to the War Office, the 
forces concerned were the Militia and the Yeomanry. 
The work was dealt with by four clerks ; but it grew 
rapidly in the Crimean War, and the great revival 
of the Volunteer Corps which followed the scare of 
1859 resulted in the formation of a second small 
branch. Both branches and an Inspector-General 
then reported direct to the Secretary of State. Later 
the two were amalgamated, and in 1872 the united 
branch was brought into the military department, 
and the "Inspector-General of Auxiliary Forces'* was 
attached to the Commander-in-Chief. Subsequent 
changes were of minor importance up to the time of 
the Esher Committee, who recommended the re- 
placement of the Inspector-General by a "Director 
of Auxiliary Forces" serving under the Adjutant- 
General who would "study the special requirements 
of the forces and "bring them to the notice of the 
Army Council." The transfer of the directorate to its 
present position dates from the Haldane re-organisa- 
tion when the Territorial Force was created. The 
change to the title "Territorial Army" was made in 

The Director-General has three branches. His 
responsibility, in general terms, is advice relating to 
the Territorial Army and the part of the Supple- 
mentary Reserve which is administered as part of 
the "T.A." The administration of the County 
Associations and the organisation of the "T.A." 
Nursing Service are special aspects of this duty. 

The Territorial Army is a statutory force raised 
under Acts of Parliament (the Territorial and Reserve 
Forces Act, 1907, and the Territorial Army and 


Militia Act, 1921). In principle the composition of 
the force is assimilated to that of the Regular Army; 
but its command and training form a distinct province 
separated from its administration. For the latter it 
possesses a special machinery. The duty of com- 
mand and the responsibility for training rest with the 
military authorities of the Commands; and in the 
matter of organisation for war and the fighting 
efficiency of the "T.A." the Director-General at the 
War Office is responsible to the Chief of the Imperial 
General Staff. In training uniformity of principle is 
essential; but in administration, on the other hand, 
elasticity has a special importance in the encourage- 
ment of local effort, for the force is essentially a 
County force. Accordingly the work of local admin- 
istration falls to the County Associations created by 
the Act of 1907. 

The Associations are County bodies who possess 
a special knowledge of local requirements, and 
their functions are to raise and maintain their 
units, to provide headquarters, drill halls and 
ranges in short, all the duties of local management 
except when the units are training in camp or 
embodied or engaged on active service. For these 
purposes each Association receives annual grants 
out of Army Funds, some of them intended for 
general expenses, clothing, travelling to drills and 
so on, and some of them earmarked for buildings and 
lands; and the expenditure of these public monies 
is subject, of course, to control by the War Office. 

Thus the control exercised by the War Office has 
two sides, military and civil; and the duties of two 
of the "T.A." branches may be said to correspond 


with this division one dealing with advice on all 
such matters as organisation, recruiting and discip- 
line, equipment, inspection and permanent staff; 
while the other is concerned with the civil business 
such as questions of property, the provision of 
ranges, the constitution of the Associations and the 
regulations which govern the force. So much of this 
work is bound up with finance that a special branch 
of the Finance division is devoted solely to "T.A." 
business. The Director-General has also a section 
for technical advice on building proposals, and a 
third branch, under the Matron-in-Chief, which 
deals with the T.A. Nursing Service. 

Before the late war Mr. Harold Baker wrote, in 
his book on Lord Haldane's creation, ". . . a 
single national army has come into existence, the 
two lines of which are homogeneous in organisation 
and differ only in function. The dividing question, 
it may be said, is no longer whether a standing army 
is a menace to liberty, but whether the voluntary 
principle affords an adequate security for internal 
defence. The answer to that question is supplied by 
the Territorial Force. " But matters have not stood 
still at that point. Since the war the role of this 
"second line" has been vastly increased in scope and 
importance. The responsibility for manning the coast 
defences at home, and a large share in air defence, 
have been entrusted to the "T.A."; a wide measure 
of mechanisation is being applied to it step by step; 
and finally, while under the original Act the force 
was intended for home defence only, the general 
scheme which is now in operation is that every man 
who joins the force shall have formally agreed to 


accept liability to serve outside the United Kingdom 
and shall join the force with the full knowledge that, 
in the event of grave emergency, legislation may 
be introduced which would render him liable for 
"general service." 

This liability would mean, in effect, that the men 
could legally be used, as individuals, wherever 
military exigencies might demand, instead of only 
in their own units; but it does not mean that Terri- 
torial units would be used for the purpose of supply- 
ing drafts to fill gaps in the Regular Army. The 
Central Council of Associations, whose advice is 
sought on important questions, accepted this new 
condition of entry from November ist, 1933. 

Thus the usefulness of the Territorial Army as 
the "second line" to the Regular Army has been 
very materially increased, and contact between the 
two "lines" is fostered by the War Office and is 
growing closer every year. The force consists now 
of fourteen Divisions, the greater part of a Cavalry 
Division, Air Defence formations, Coast Defence 
units and various non-divisional troops. 

The Lands Branch, a civilian branch headed by 
a Comptroller of Lands, dates from 1908, and 
deals with the administration of lands belonging to, 
or in charge of, the Department, and duties connected 
with the purchase and sale, letting and hiring of 
lands and buildings. Up to that time the control at 
the War Office rested with the Royal Engineers in 
the branch which dealt with Works services. 

Originally all the properties held were vested in 


the Board of Ordnance, but were transferred to the 
Secretary of State by an Act of 1855. Their local 
custody then, as now, rested with the military 
authorities of the district, and immediately with the 
Royal Engineers. Even in 1882 the land held as 
sites of camps and barracks, fortifications, factories, 
storehouses and training grounds amounted to 
54,000 acres; and the modern system was fore- 
shadowed then, for a Committee under Sir A. D. 
Hayter reported to Mr. Childers, the Secretary of 
State, that "it is no disparagement to the high repu- 
tation of the corps of Royal Engineers to admit that 
its officers are necessarily deficient in the technical 
training and the professional experience which are 
desirable in agents for the management of landed 
property. " However, twenty-six years elapsed before 
a civilian Comptroller was appointed at the War 
Office, together with a Land Valuer, and three years 
more before the Lucas Committee, reporting in 
1911, recommended that local official land agents 
should normally be appointed in each Command, 
and should work under the Chief Engineers as tech- 
nical advisers on property questions, supervising the 
collection of rents, the obtaining of tenants and 
settlements generally. 

The main weakness in the old system was one 
which the R.E. could hardly avoid: the responsible 
officers were constantly changing, and supervision 
was bound to suffer. The new system had an added 
value in providing permanent qualified advice on 
agricultural and estate questions. At the time of 
these changes the lands held amounted to 150,000 
acres; to-day, in spite of constant review and the 


loss of the lands in Southern Ireland, the total 
estate held at home by the War Office is no less than 
246,000 acres, in addition to the holding of clearance 
rights over another 8,000 acres. The increase is due 
to the larger scale on which modern training is 
carried out, the effect of the use of mechanical 
vehicles on the area required for movement, and the 
longer range of modern guns. The largest freehold 
areas are situated, of course, at the military centres, 
such as Salisbury Plain (68,000 acres), Aldershot 
and Bordon (26,000 acres), Catterick (14,000 acres), 
Colchester, Plymouth, Portsmouth and so on. Land 
rendered surplus by changes in policy results in 
average sale receipts of approximately 50,000 a 
year. Properties which are temporarily surplus but 
cannot be definitely alienated are let to tenants at 
fair rents; and the annual revenue from this source 
and from the department's woodlands and sewage- 
farms is about 100,000 a year. 

The landlord is the Secretary of State: the local 
representative of the Secretary of State is, under 
the Command Headquarters, the Chief Engineer: 
the Land Agents in the several Commands are the 
technical advisers to the Royal Engineers. Abroad 
the general conditions are different. The bulk of 
the 16,500 acres at the various stations overseas is 
so-called "colonial military land" provided by the 
local Government for perpetual use for defence 

Few property questions are very simple, and, as 
legislation grows in complexity, the War Office 
duties in this field form no exception to the general 
rule. Claims for damage to roads and bridges, ques- 


tions of rates, taxes and tithes, the preparation of 
bye-laws for ranges, and the transfer of property to 
highway authorities are types of cases which come 
to the War Office. Parliamentary Bills must be 
examined, not merely in the obvious cases such as 
rent-restriction or town-planning measures, but all 
municipal or other local schemes which may affect 
the department's landlord-interests. Again, the 
authority of the War Office is required for the use 
of its property for club purposes, institute sites, 
church rooms, shops, municipal works, the laying 
of gas or water-pipes, and for all other "encroach- 
ments" that possess unusual features. Valuations of 
property, assessment of compensation due, and 
negotiations for purchases, sales, lettings and hirings 
of land and buildings comprise the more technical 
side of the work. When negotiations have been com- 
pleted full particulars of each case are supplied by 
the branch to the Treasury Solicitor, and the latter 
prepares the legal documents. 

The Lands Branch consists of the Comptroller of 
Lands, a Chief Land Agent and Valuer, and a staff 
of 17 other civilians. It administers a large and 
scattered estate a task which is steeped in legal 
intricacies, which calls for a knowledge of the history 
of the properties and experience in dealing with 
outside bodies. In fine, like the Territorial Army, it 
deserves its place as a special interest of the Par- 
liamentary Under-Secretary of State. 
# * # * 

The Financial Secretary of the War Office is the 
Finance Member of the Army Council, or in office 
parlance the "P.M." 


The title "Finance Member of Council" was 
recommended by the Esher Committee, who de- 
sired to emphasise the point that his responsibilities 
in the matter of economy were to be co-equal 
with those of his colleagues, and not special and 
separate. The title, however, needs explanation 
inasmuch as the branches known as "Finance 
branches" are not responsible to the Finance 
Member but to the Permanent Under-Secretary of 
State. The Financial Secretary is concerned with 
finance in a larger sense in which it may be distin- 
guished from the duties of departmental finance. As 
a member of the Estimates Committee which reviews 
and selects all the "new services" that compete for a 
place in the annual programme, and as Chairman 
of the Finance Committee which watches expendi- 
ture throughout the year, he is in close touch with 
the Army Votes. He is specially concerned with 
Labour policy. Representing the department in the 
House of Commons and being the sole representa- 
tive there when the Secretary of State and the Par- 
liamentary Under-Secretary both sit in the Upper 
House he is associated with every development 
which possesses a parliamentary interest, a public or 
political aspect. But apart from these broad respon- 
sibilities as a Minister and as a Member of Council, 
he has a special departmental function as responsible 
for the policy of Army Contracts. 

In the matter of the administration of contracts 
the Esher conclusions were not very happy. A Direc- 
tor of Contracts was first established shortly after 
the Crimean War, but following the Reports of 1 904 
the office was abolished, and the Contract branch was 


split up into sections attached to the departments of 
the military members, the "Q.M.G." and the 
"M.G.O.," who were responsible for demanding the 
stores. The experiment was unsuccessful. It obviously 
permitted of overlapping, of different departments of 
the War Office competing in the same market. A 
separate and self-contained Contract department, 
not concerned with deciding what stores shall be 
bought, but only with the business of purchasing, 
and possessed of a centralised knowledge of markets, 
not only preserves the age-old principles which many 
a committee of the past has affirmed, but makes for 
considerable economy of staff, and ensures a still 
more important point uniformity of contract 

Parliament, for example, has laid down the 
principle that Government contracts should be placed 
with firms, and only those firms, who pay fair wages : 
further, that as a general rule only those firms should 
be given contracts whose names are on the King's 
Roll who employ, that is to say, a definite percentage 
of disabled ex-Service men. Similarly Government 
policy demands that a certain preference in buying 
should be accorded to Home and Empire products. 
Uniformity in applying these principles is facilitated, 
quite obviously, by the existence of a single direc- 
torate; and the placing of the revived Director of 
Contracts under the supervision of the Financial 
Secretary (October 1908) was appropriate, since the 
central purchasing department is thus directly in 
charge of a Minister and a Member of the House 
of Commons. The administration of Government 
contracts is a special interest of Parliament, including 


of course the cardinal point that it shall be wholly 
above suspicion. 

Under the Financial Secretary, then, and in con- 
cert with the military departments who are respon- 
sible for saying what stores are required, the purchase 
and sale of stores, supplies, machinery and clothing, 
and the contracts for building and other services, 
are in charge of a Director of Army Contracts and a 
staff of 78 civil servants. Government buying has 
special features. Many needs of the Army its 
clothing, for example, or its guns and its tanks 
have no counterpart in civil trading; and even in the 
case of ordinary articles in the leather, hardware or 
cutlery lines, requirements must be stated with 
extreme precision in order to secure uniformity and 
the requisite standard of quality. Again, the Army 
buys on a very large scale, spending perhaps six 
millions a year, in everything from the most complex 
machines to toothbrushes and razor-blades. As a 
consequence, in most cases, the goods have to be 
specially made, or the arrangements for supply to be 
specially prepared. The contracts for frozen meat, 
for example, cover deliveries spread over six months, 
and the producers in, say, Australia must be allowed 
some months for making arrangements before the 
deliveries are due to begin. Thus clear details and 
exact stipulations must be set out in the tender forms 
which are sent out to likely suppliers, and these 
invitations to manufacturers and traders, which vary 
of course with each class of store and are often special 
to the particular contract, amount to some 50,000 
a year. 

Then comes the very vital point of deciding to 


whom the contract shall be given, bearing in mind 
three essential conditions: that the buying shall be 
done as economically as possible; that the allocation 
shall be above suspicion ; and that equal opportunities 
shall be afforded to all traders who are suitably 
equipped to supply what is wanted. The system of 
to-day, pne fears, would hardly have suited the sharp 
Mr. Pepys as he sauntered through "St. James 
parke" in the summer of 1664. The prospective 
victuallers of the garrison of Tangier had promised 
him a mere i 50 a year if he succeeded in obtaining 
the contract for them at 35. i|d. per man per week, 
and a far preferable 300 a year if he managed the 
figure of 35. 2d. Mr. Pepys obtained the higher 
figure, "which," he notes, "do overjoy me." To-day 
such joy is not only demode, but is carefully placed 
quite out of reach. Any firm may apply to tender, 
and if its capacity and credentials are found to be 
satisfactory, may count upon being placed on the 
list. Tenders are invited on each contract from the 
firms noted for the particular commodity, and, in 
order to ensure fairness, must all be submitted by the 
same date. They are then opened at the same time 
by a specially constituted "tender board." The 
tender selected is the most advantageous, which 
means in the vast majority of cases that the lowest 
offer received is accepted. 

Once the order is placed, the Contracts direc- 
torate has no concern in inspecting the stores, nor 
any concern with paying for them. It is simply 
concerned with the purchasing, which of course 
includes the delivery of the goods as specified in 
the terms of the contract, and involves much 


work if delays occur, if the wording admits any 
doubt as to meaning, or if the department desires 
to amend its requirements. There are, of course, 
certain goods and services which are better pro T 
vided by local contracts such cases as flour at 
small stations, and sometimes laundry or scavenging 
services and here the function of "D.A.C." is 
only to review the contracts made by the military 
authorities of the Command concerned. The object 
of this post mortem review is, of course, to secure 
uniformity of principle in purchasing work through- 
out the Army. 

The work of selling is also important, for sales at 
headquarters in the course of the year may be worth 
1 00,000 to the public. Many of the stores condemned 
as unserviceable fetch better prices locally; but 
centralised selling, like centralised buying, is gener- 
ally speaking advantageous, and "D.A.C." is a 
seeker of markets for an annual collection of stuff 
of all kinds. Old greatcoats, obsolete patterns of 
dress, guns captured in forgotten battles, worn-out 
tentage, disused tractors, the produce of the metal 
scrap-heaps . . . they neither look nor sound very 
valuable, but success or failure in disposing of them 
is of real concern to the taxpayer, as is proved by 
the figures of total receipts. 

Another side of "Contracts" work is concerned 
with sources of Trade supply for meeting the 
possible requirements of the Army in the event of 
grave emergency. 

The future may hold no such great crisis as the 
country faced in 1914, but, if the lessons of the 
past are not to be ignored, the Department must 


at least examine in peace-time how the production 
of food, ammunition, armaments the thousand 
needs of the Army in war can be expanded and 
quickened in time of emergency. To advise the 
Army Council on the capacity of the Trade is a 
function of the "D.A.C.," and since one of the 
lessons of a modern war conducted on a vast scale 
was the intermingling of Army requirements with 
those not only of the other two Services but of 
most of the civil departments as well, no theory of 
peace-time precautions could stand which did not 
envisage these all-round contacts. Accordingly the 
Army Contracts directorate is concerned with a 
series of Standing Committees which examine this 
problem of trade capacity in relation to all the 
chief classes of stores ; and these Committees include 
representatives not only of the other Fighting Ser- 
vices but of India, the Dominions and the Board of 
Trade. This is one side of a large organisation con- 
trolled by the Committee of Imperial Defence, in 
which the War Office takes its due share as one of 
the principal parties concerned. 

Equally the "D.A.C." is concerned with watching 
the interests of "Trade capacity" when the peace- 
time orders for stores are allotted. In the Army 
Estimates for 1934 the sum of 2,470,000 is pro- 
vided for the purchase of "warlike stores," and the 
Navy and the Air Force also have large orders to 
place for munitions. Naturally the Government 
Factories, as the first reserve for expansion in 
emergency, have a prior claim to this type of work : 
for a certain level of peace-time production is re- 
quired by a given capacity to expand. But the Trade 


too, if it is to obtain the necessary experience for 
assisting production in time of emergency, must be 
given a share in the work available; and the allocation 
of the annual orders is an important piece of joint 
business on which the three Services work together. 
At these discussions, at which the chair is taken by 
the Master-General of the Ordnance, the respon- 
sibility of the "D.A.C." is to watch, on the Army 
side of the question, that due weight is given to the 
claims of the Trade. 

The "man in the street" might fairly ask why 
each of the three Fighting Services requires a separate 
Contracts division. Why not a single combined 

One relevant consideration is that the require- 
ments of the three Services are not by any means 
the same: even in the matter of food or clothing, 
and more so in fighting stores, most of their needs 
are not "common." But the idea which underlies 
the question economy in combined buying 
is obviously reasonable, and is neither forgotten 
nor ignored. There are goods of common specifi- 
cation which can be purchased with greater economy 
if the requirements of different departments are 
"bulked"; and in these cases that plan is followed. 
The department which is the largest user buys as 
the agent of the other departments. Thus the War 
Office is the buyer of meat for the Air Force at home 
Stations and for the Navy at Malta and Gibraltar, 
and it places contracts for medicines and drugs 
which serve not only the Navy and the Air Force 
but also the needs of the Ministry of Pensions and 
of th* General Post Office. Medical glassware is 


obtained by the War Office from contracts placed 
by the Admiralty; and, again, the War Office buys 
most of its furniture through the agency of the 
Office of Works. 

In this matter the "D.A.C." is a member of a 
Standing Co-ordinating Committee, which con- 
sists of the three Directors of Contracts together 
with representatives of the Treasury, the Post 
Office and the Office of Works, and the question 
of increasing agency-purchase by the standard- 
isation of stores, for example is not allowed to 
remain dormant. There are advantages in combined 
buying; but there are also advantages, no less plain, 
in a system under which a buying department is 
responsible to its own "board of directors. " The 
system described is a compromise a pragmatic 
compromise: it works. 

The directorate of Army Contracts is organised 
in nine branches, of which six may be called pur- 
chasing sections (actually one of them includes sales) 
each dealing with a group of trades. Thus one is 
concerned with guns and small arms, ammunition, 
explosives, optical instruments, machinery and 
plant, railway materials, engineering and electrical 
stores; another with provisions, fuel and so on; and 
another with surgical instruments, hardware, wood- 
ware, glassware, drugs, etc. A seventh deals with the 
lists of contractors, the large business of handling 
the tenders, and the actual issue of the contract 
documents. The eighth has a special technical 
section the inspection of a contractor's works being 
a type of its duties and, apart from this, is the 
branch which is charged with the general work. The 


general work includes, for example, the questions 
of wages and conditions of labour with which the 
department is confronted constantly in its dealings 
with many thousands of contractors, and also the 
task of collecting information for the several com 
mittees whose tasks have been mentioned. The ninth 
branch is again a technical section. It deals with 
"costings" investigations such as are required for 
the type of contract which is based on the actual cost 
of production as ascertained from the books of the 

As a list of the duties of a large directorate this 
short statement is necessarily incomplete, but pos- 
sibly it may suffice to indicate how wide a field of 
principle and policy is opened up by "Army Con- 
tracts" as the special sphere of the "P.M." 

Chapter XI 

HARD things have been said about Army Finance, 
and the fact is not at all surprising. Its functions are 
frequently irritating. It engenders impatience far 
from divine. But here is a case where to know all is 
to forgive much: for most of the duties of Army 
Finance proceed from a system of check and veto 
which lies at the root of constitutional government 
as understood in this ancient State. 

The spending of the money provided for the Army 
is primarily the business of the military departments; 
for a leading principle of the modern War Office is 
the government of the Army by the chiefs of the 
Army, acting under the Secretary of State. Army 
Finance in one sense is, therefore, a function of the 
Council as a whole; but we are speaking now of a 
narrower sense the functions of the civil branches 
serving under Directors of Finance as a part of the 
large civil department controlled by the Permanent 
Under-Secretary of State. 

In this sense its most striking characteristic is 
that it does not spend any money. It is not finance 
in any ordinary usage of the word. It has certain 
duties under the heading of "accounting," and it 
has two major "financial" functions one of advice 
on proposals for spending, with a view to ensuring 
value for money, and one of imposing conformity 


with the definite rules and regulations which govern 
the spending of public money. Of these the former 
is the more important, at least from the taxpayer's 
point of view, and the latter is easily the more 
troublesome. On the question of conformity or 
"regularity Army Finance is very powerful: its 
voice has the weight of ultimate sanctions ; it is the 
voice of Parliament, inescapable; it is a system of 
control which is planted in history and has grown 
up with the Constitution. 

The purpose of parliamentary control is consti- 
tutional, and its story begins in the Middle Ages. 

Originally it was aimed at the Crown. The basis 
of parliamentary government is control through the 
power of veto of Parliament on the raising and the 
spending of money. At first it concerned the raising 
only. When the King was faced with an expensive 
war, and the strain was too great for his personal 
revenues and for any forced loan which he could 
contrive, he was compelled to come to Parliament 
to authorise the necessary tax. Then Parliament 
began to make conditions. It wished to secure that 
the money which it gave to the King for a war was 
honestly spent on prosecuting that war. The 
Parliament of 1341, for example, attached as a 
condition to the grant of supplies that Commissioners 
should be appointed to examine the accounts. King 
Henry IV took the strong line that " Kings do not 
render accounts, " and under the Yorkist and Tudor 
monarchs Parliament's claim to an audit was dropped. 
But the free spirit of the era of Hampden was ready 
to fight for the principle of control. When victory 
had been won on the basic point that there should 


be "no taxation without consent/ 1 the Commons re- 
opened the further question of how expenditure 
should be controlled. 

At the Restoration of 1660 the proceedings of 
the Merry Monarch did not justify a feeling of 
complete confidence that money provided for 
naval purposes would be applied to the keeping 
of ships only; and, when a tax was levied for war 
against the Dutch, a clause was introduced into 
the Act that the money should be spent solely on 
the war. This is called an "appropriation" clause, 
meaning that funds supplied by Parliament shall be 
used for the purpose for which they are voted and 
not for any other purpose. With the accession of 
William of Orange and the express recognition in 
the Act of Settlement that the keeping of an Army 
in time of peace should depend on the annual consent 
of Parliament, the system of "appropriating" the 
money supplied laid the foundations of Army Finance 
from the point of view of control by Parliament, 

The curious point at this stage is the failure to set 
up any machinery to secure that the money was spent 
as intended. The Commons appear to have relied on 
the Exchequer, the department which received and 
issued the money. Originally the Exchequer was 
wholly the King's ; just as the Lord High Treasurer 
was originally an officer of the King's household. 
These two offices became entirely distinct; to-day the 
Exchequer is a Government Department directly 
responsible to Parliament, and in particular to the 
House of Commons, while the Treasury has become 
a Government Department controlled by a Minister 
of the Crown. 


The first step in the evolution was concerned 
only with the Exchequer. In olden days the busi- 
ness of the Exchequer was merely to see that 
the moneys issued from the great chests which it 
kept for the King were issued with proper authority 
from the Crown. It was now required to ensure that 
all such issues were made in accordance with the 
grants of Parliament. No money was allowed to issue 
from the Exchequer except for the purpose of a 
particular service as authorised by a vote of Parlia- 
ment. But throughout the eighteenth century Par- 
liament did not go further than this in attempting 
to watch how the money was spent. The larger part 
of the money issued from the Exchequer was paid 
over to high officials such as the Paymaster- 
General* of the Forces or the Treasurer of the 
Board of Ordnance, and no machinery existed for 
satisfying Parliament that money voted for Army 
services was not diverted for civil payments. Even 
such a system as detailed ' 'appropriation " by dividing 
the money voted for the Army into a number of 
separate compartments (there are 1 5 of such "Votes" 
to-day, each divided into many sub-heads) was not 
demanded at this date. Parliament was controlling 
the existence of the Army and the total of money to 
be voted each year; it did not attempt to achieve an 
effective control over the administration of the funds. 
The efficiency of the Army was left to the Crown : 
Parliament, with the means of controlling its exist- 
ence, was content with keeping it weak and cheap. 
The Exchequer Act of 1834, which reformed the 
Exchequer and appointed a Comptroller who was 

* Note 1 8, page 346. 


definitely an officer of Parliament, still did not 
secure the further point that the funds issued from 
the Exchequer to the Treasury (as representing the 
Crown) should be actually devoted to the proper 

One incidental effect of this Act was that Parlia- 
ment lost its old home. The old wooden tallies used 
by the Exchequer were no longer required and were 
much in the way, but their timely destruction set 
fire to a flue and both Houses of Parliament were 
burnt to the ground in October, 1834. 

Meanwhile the theory had been developed of 
* 'ministerial responsibility' '; that is to say, that 
Ministers of the Crown are responsible to Parlia- 
ment for all the executive acts of government. Con- 
trol, originally aimed at the King, was thenceforth 
aimed at Ministers. Up to this time, as explained 
above, a Government which was prepared to ignore 
the intentions of Parliament's "appropriation" was 
not prevented from doing so by the existence of the 
Exchequer department. But a system aimed at more 
effective control, a system of audit, was now on its 
way. Examination of the accounts of the persons 
who received and paid out public moneys had 
existed, indeed, in the eighteenth century; but this 
was audit on behalf of Ministers, not on behalf of 
Parliament. In 1832 an audit was instituted, which 
may be called "Appropriation Audit," of the funds 
provided on Navy Votes ; and the auditors this was 
the new point had to ascertain that the payments 
made were properly chargeable to the particular 
Vote in accordance with parliamentary intention, 
and that the total of the Vote was not exceeded. The 


results of the audit were reported to Parliament. If 
the First Lord of the Admiralty was rash enough to 
"misappropriate" money (not, of course, in the moral 
sense), the sin would eventually find him out. 

In 1 846 the system was applied to Army votes and 
to Ordnance votes. Then, when this plan had had 
time to sink in, and not without prolonged discus- 
sion, a famous Act was passed by Mr. Gladstone 
the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act of 1 866 ; 
and what Mr. Gladstone said in 1866 has remained 
true doctrine to this day. This Act set up a single 
head, permanent and independent, who is both 
Comptroller-General of the Receipt and Issue of His 
Majesty's Exchequer and Auditor-General of the 
Public Accounts, or more shortly the "Comptroller 
and Auditor-General"; and from that time onwards 
every authority entrusted with the disposal of public 
moneys had to render an account to this officer. 
Acting on behalf of Parliament he applies the 
"Appropriation Audit," watching the point that every 
disbursement made from a Vote must fall within the 
purpose of that Vote. 

But the Act went very much further than that. 
The historic purpose of Parliament had been to 
control the Lord High Treasurer as the officer 
who handled the King's public moneys: it now 
called in the Treasury to help it, entrusting the 
Treasury with great powers. The Treasury now had 
to see that every department rendered its accounts 
in due form; and under this scheme and for this 
purpose an Accounting Officer is appointed to-day 
in each of the great Government departments, who is 
personally responsible to Parliament. The Accounting 


Officer is not only responsible that the Account of 
his particular department is properly rendered at 
the due time, but responsible, too, that no part of 
the expenditure is incurred without due superior 
authority, either of the Treasury or of Parliament, 
where such authority is required by the rules. 

In the War Office the Accounting Officer is the 
Permanent Under-Secretary of State. Every pay- 
ment from War Office Votes is made on his personal 
responsibility. He is appointed to secure financial 
regularity. He is charged to refuse to allow any pay- 
ment which he considers to be irregular, and only 
the Secretary of State himself, by personal order 
given in writing, has power to overrule that protest 
and so to assume the responsibility upon which the 
House of Commons insists. Further, when the 
Army Account for the year has been rendered to the 
Comptroller and Auditor-General, it is subjected to 
detailed and critical scrutiny by the Standing Com- 
mittee of the House of Commons known as the 
Public Accounts Committee, and the Accounting 
Officer is examined upon it, as by a judicial tribunal. 

Thus, to sum up, the control which is now 
exercised by Parliament lies, first, in its power to 
refuse supplies; next, in its power of audit of 
expenditure through the powers of the Comptroller 
and Auditor-General; and thirdly, in the fact that 
it has constituted the Treasury as a central director 
and arbiter in all matters of public accounts, with 
power to appoint Accounting Officers who are 
personally responsible. 

In this way, then, Army Finance, on the point of 
the propriety of the expenditure incurred, is primarily 


the voice of Parliament. But the Treasury, wielding 
its delegated powers, is another voice to which it 
must hearken. By an Act of 1 92 1, replacing a section 
of the original Act, the "C. and A.G." is bound to 
ascertain whether the expenditure contained in an 
Appropriation Account is supported by the authority 
of the Treasury, where Treasury rules require that 

Now those Treasury rules are very extensive. 
First of all they prescribe the form of the Estimates 
and the corresponding form of the Account, and 
the 15 Votes for Army services, each of which is 
in theory a water-tight compartment, are divided 
into a number of subheads. For example, Vote i 
is for the Pay of the Army, and is carved up into 
eleven subheads. In unexpected emergency it might 
be necessary to exceed the total of a Vote; but 
even if the amount of the estimated excess is less 
than the saving on another Vote, the War Office has 
no powers in the matter. Only Parliament can sanc- 
tion an excess on a Vote ; but the Treasury under its 
delegated powers can sanction the excess provision- 
ally, and take steps to obtain parliamentary approval. 
Such is the theory of "appropriation," which is in- 
tensified by the Treasury orders which divide each 
Vote into so many subheads. The War Office must 
not deliberately overspend on any one of these many 
subheads, whatever savings there may be on others, 
without the prior permission of the Treasury. 

Again, the sanction of the Treasury is required for 
any alteration in rates of pay, or of the numbers of an 
establishment, or for any "new service" or "increase 
of cost" which has not been provided, with due 


authority, in the grants made by Parliament. In the 
sphere of control Army Finance must not only watch 
the rules laid down for "appropriation" by Votes and 
subheads, but must secure the observance of Treasury 
regulations on detailed items of expenditure. It must 
convert the rulings of Parliament and the Treasury 
into appropriate regulations for the Army, and secure 
obedience to these regulations. To take a very simple 
illustration, Parliament has voted the money for 
stationery as a charge against one of the Civil Votes, 
and the War Office must ensure that no stationery for 
the Army is bought as a charge on Army funds. 
Again, a gift of Army stores the provision, for 
instance, of blankets and food by the military au- 
thorities in the West Indies in aid of the victims of 
an earthquake disaster requires the prior sanction 
of the War Office acting on behalf of Parliament, 
and requires the superior sanction of the Treasury 
if the gift exceeds a certain value. A gift is technically 
a "misappropriation" of money which Parliament 
has voted for public purposes, and the Council must, 
therefore, make clear to the Army that such gifts 
require their prior approval. 

Indeed, the property of the taxpayer is guarded 
with such extreme caution that the Council possess 
no powers at all to give Army stores to individuals. 
On February 3rd, 1915, when the War Office 
was overwhelmed with work, the Council were 
compelled by the rules in force to apply formally 
for Treasury sanction before they could allow the 
mother of a bugler, who had died from his wounds, 
to keep the bugle which her son had used. The 
bugle was public property. Its value was assessed 


at four shillings and ninepence. This is no reflection 
on Treasury wisdom, but an illustration of Parlia- 
ment's vigilance. In Treasury control there is no 
desire to hamper the business of any department; 
the spirit of it is wisely elastic : but the War Office 
is probably far less free than is realised by the public 
at large. 

That is one duty of Army Finance the pursuit of 
conformity with rules. The other of its major duties 
a difficult but most important duty is that of 
controlling expenditure by means of financial advice. 

It does not, of course, stand alone in its function 
of criticising financial policy: the Treasury, too, has 
a large voice. The Treasury is not merely responsible 
for ensuring obedience to Parliament's intentions: 
it is also the special instrument of the Government 
for carrying out its financial policy. Its head is the 
Chancellor of the Exchequer (who has no connection 
with the Exchequer Department), the Finance 
Minister of the Government. The Army Estimates, 
for example, are part of the Government's programme 
for the year, and the total sum is settled by the 
Cabinet; but each separate Vote requires the sanction 
of the Treasury acting on behalf or the Government. 
Similarly, when the Votes have been approved by 
Parliament, the Treasury has a large voice in the 
criticising of detailed proposals. Any permanent in- 
crease of personnel will involve liabilities for years to 
come. Immediate expenditure on buildings or arma- 
ments, possibly small in the first year, may involve 
very large future commitments. A change in a rate 
of pay or allowance may raise parallel claims in the 
Naw or Air Force. The oostoonement of a particular 


service may prove to have been an actual saving. 
The Treasury, standing in a central position and 
surveying the whole broad field of finance, can co- 
ordinate the demands of departments in the light 
oT ministerial policy, can criticise proposed expendi- 
ture from the point of view of its repercussions, and 
can apply, in the process of * 'cutting down," a con- 
sistent standard of financial sacrifice. 

In these directions Treasury control is a highly 
effective instrument: it can even prevent a waste of 
money; but it could not pretend to be an efficient 
substitute for a live system of financial control acting 
within a department itself and aiming at that more 
difficult target economy in administration. For this 
purpose there exists for Army services those special 
officers and staffs who not only watch "regularity" of 
expenditure on behalf of Parliament and the Treasury, 
but occupy an independent position as financial 
advisers and financial critics of all proposals for 
military expenditure. This is Army Finance "at 

As long ago as 1869 the Northbrook Committee, 
advising Card well, had drawn attention to the old 
tradition that the administrative branches which 
spent the money were to be distrusted, watched and 
checked; whilst the function of finance was to 
criticise and check. Efficiency and economy were 
thus at war. Again, the Clinton Dawkins Committee 
which in 1901, after thirty-seven sittings, produced 
a very able report on the whole conduct of War 
Office business, especially "the existing financial 


checks, " reported that, while the financial staff was 
quite essential to the Secretary of State, the closest 
co-operation was necessary between the military and 
the civilian departments. It was re-echoing the North- 
brook view that the perfect theory of organisation 
lay in the union of finance and administration. 
Financial considerations, on that view, should attend 
all the time on administrative policy; they should be 
made available from its inception as well as control 
it during its progress. This theory would attribute to 
Finance a higher function than mere criticism the 
function of governing, as far as necessary, the whole 
policy of administration and of forming a part of the 
primary responsibility of the Secretary of State and 
the Government. 

But in the eyes of the Esher Committee, report- 
ing with consummate speed and fluency in the 
Spring of 1904, this Northbrook conception of 
Army Finance had been very far from realised. 
The system and methods of financial control were 
arraigned as the root of all evil. "They do not con- 
duce to economy in peace; they directly promote 
waste in war; they tend, at all times, to combine the 
maximum of friction with the minimum of efficiency." 
"The entire system of War Office finance, which 
. . . has its origin in a distant past" was condemned 
as misconceived and futile, and "a change of per- 
sonnel" was recommended, since nothing else which 
the Committee could suggest would "so fully con- 
vince the rank and file of the Finance Branch that 
the old system must be abandoned, and completely 
new habits formed." The gist of this very bitter 
indictment was the alleged abuse of the powers of 


control placed in the hands of a civilian department 
described as a "huge and costly machine which is 
supposed to control expenditure by the aid of in- 
volved regulations." 

iMnce this abuse was denied completely by Lord 
Roberts, Sir Evelyn Wood, Sir T. Kelly-Kenny, 
Sir Mansfield Clarke and other distinguished 
military officers who had served in the War Office 
recently, the accusation was not convincing. An 
unkind critic might even suppose that the Com- 
mittee's normal clearness of thought had been 
temporarily obfuscated, and that individual officials, 
and not the system, were the real objects of so 
fierce an attack. That, however, is past history. 
Whatever the facts of the past may have been, the 
conception of financial control so roundly con- 
demned by the Esher triumvirate is certainly not the 
conception to-day. It is true that all control in the 
Army must work a great deal by regulations a 
method which has its limitations. This is not only 
so in matters of "finance" such as the rates of pay 
and allowances but also as regards the expenditure 
of stores, which has to be controlled by the military 
departments by means of minute equipment regu- 
lations, by scales of clothing and ammunition, or by 
schedules of hospital stores and furniture. Inevitably 
the Army at large is inundated with regulations ; but 
the modern ideal of the Finance Department is to 
make them elastic so far as it can. 

The Committee were clearly right in their con- 
tention that economy in the true sense of obtaining 
the fullest value for money can only be ensured in 
oneway , . . by the military authorities themselves. 


They were right when, following the Dawkins Com- 
mittee, they pressed the point that financial advisers 
sections, in fact, of the Finance Department 
should be attached to each of the military chiefs, the 
"Q.M.G." and the "M.G.O.," who were mainly 
responsible for the spending of money. This was 
already in course of being done, and the system 
remains in being to-day. The idea that economy in 
the true sense could only be achieved by military 
administrators who were fully appraised of the 
financial bearings of every proposal that might come 
before them was the theory stressed by Sir Charles 
Harris, when he advocated the "cost accounts" to 
which reference will be made in the final chapter, 
He emphasised the fact in trenchant phrases that "a 
vital striving after economy " belongs to a higher 
level of administration than "the mechanical im- 
pounding of casual balances" by tying up cash in 
small compartments. 

The Esher picture of Army Finance as regarding 
all military officers as spendthrifts, if it ever was true, 
is not true now. Common sense alone forbids such a 
view. The sum which the nation will spare for its 
Army is, arid must be, a limited sum; and the 
authorities who are most deeply interested in getting 
the highest value for money are the heads of the 
military departments themselves. The Army Esti- 
mates for 1934 show a gross total of ^45,373,000 
the total, that is, without deducting receipts; but if 
the public imagines that any such sum is available 
for new projects, for schemes of military ambition, 
the public is grievously mistaken. Nine millions, for 
example, are earmarked for pensions ; eleven millions 


are required for pay. The cost of simply "running" 
the Army as it stood organised at the beginning of 
the year, in pay, food, housing, etc., will take up 
mpst of the whole sum. These are "maintenance" 
costs which cannot be avoided, short of reducing the 
size of the Army. In actual fact the sum for "new 
services" available to the Council at the beginning 
of the year (1934-35) for changes in numbers, new 
stores, new building schemes, new land and so on, 
was under 3,000,000 in all. 

When Members of Parliament press the Wai- 
Office to give the soldiers home-killed beef in 
preference to Dominion meat at a cost of, say, half a 
million a year, it is small wonder that the War Office 
objects provided that the soldier has good food. 

There is no room for extravagance. Mechan- 
isation, for example, is a "popular" programme: 
the Press and the public are sympathetic; but each 
machine is very expensive and the Army cannot 
afford to be rash: it must make quite sure of the 
types that are suitable: it must feel its way very 
carefully before it spends a considerable sum for 
which other urgent demands are competing. The 
individual "new services" which finally find their 
way into Estimates are the chosen remnant of a 
great host. To know the financial implications of 
every proposal that comes forward is vital to the 
military chiefs. In the intentions of the Finance 
Department the Northbrook conception has been 
realised. Army Finance in its highest function is 
co-operation within the Army between an experi- 
enced civil department and the military branches 
who spend the money. 


Of course, the position of the Finance branches 
may not always be enviable. The vigilance of the 
"C. and A.G." will query any * irregularity ," and 
will report any wasteful expenditure to Parliament. 
Again, "Finance," in much of its work, stands in 
a somewhat uncomfortable position between the 
Olympian omniscience of the Treasury and the 
idealism of military ambitions. The soldiers are 
right to be ambitious for the Army: the Treasury 
is rightly Olympian. The position calls for tact and 
understanding, and the personality of the Account- 
ing Officer is responsible in no small measure for the 
maintenance of cordial relations. An important point 
to be noted here is that the Accounting Officer is 
to-day, and has been since 1920, a member of the 
Army Council, and so definitely shares with his 
military colleagues responsibility for the efficiency 
of the Army. 

How wide is the field for constructive assistance 
may be judged from the duties of the military branches 
as set out in previous chapters; and intermingled 
with this duty is the other aspect of financial advice 
which derives from the theory of financial control on 
behalf of the Government and of Parliament. The 
preparation of the Army Estimates illustrates the 
combined functions. 

The complete printed book of the Estimates, a 
book of over 300 pages which goes into very 
considerable detail, must be given to Parliament 
early in March. The Estimates consist of Vote A 
(Numbers), and 1 5 separate money Votes Vote i , 
Pay, etc., of the Army; Vote 2, Territorial Army 
and Reserve Forces; Vote 3, Medical Services; and 


so on (the complete list is appended in a note*); and 
each Vote is split into subheads 123 in all. A 
central finance branch (F.i) is charged with the 
general collation of the figures. Draft estimates 
for the several Votes are called for from each 
Member of Council as early as the preceding 
November. They consist of the estimated costs of 
maintenance in pay, food, stores and so on; the 
amount of the receipts that may be expected 
(contributions, for instance, from India and the 
Colonies); and a preliminary list of "new services/* 
Every figure has passed through financial examina- 
tion whether it depends on a rate of pay, or the 
estimated price of food or clothing for the year 
which begins four months ahead, or on prob- 
able fluctuations of numbers, or the amount of 
cash required in the year for each of a hundred 
building schemes. The estimates, of course, are 
strictly cash . . . cash to be expended in the twelve 

That is the first stage in the process. When the 
Government has settled the total to be allowed, there 
remains a margin between that total and the sum 
of the unavoidable costs of maintaining the Army 
at a given strength and of paying commitments for 
pensions, etc. This margin constitutes the total 
allowance for the whole programme of "new ser- 
vices," from the addition of a soldier-clerk in Jamaica 
to the building of barracks at Aberdeen or of land 
defences of Singapore. The Council sits as an 
Estimates Committee combing the list item by item, 
assigning priority of urgency and importance; and 

* Note 19, page 346. 


here a complete financial picture of every item in the 
lengthy lists is vital to its interests, "Finance" must 
prepare a full exposition, and memoranda on special 
items (the programme, for instance, of mechgjj r 
isation); and, when the reduced programme is 
settled, it must put the figures into the approved 
form for presentation to Parliament, and secure that 
Treasury sanction is obtained for individual items, 
where the rules require it, and finally for each Vote 
as a whole. 

Looking to the work required of " Finance " by 
parliamentary procedure alone, three duties are 
proceeding concurrently in the autumn and winter 
of every year the preparation of the Estimates for 
the year which begins in the following April, the 
watching of current expenditure, and the prepar- 
ation of the Army Account for the year which 
ended in the previous March. Forecasts of current 
expenditure are very necessary to the Treasury, who 
are not only acting for the Chancellor but must 
watch the requirements of the House of Commons 
as regards any over-spending of Votes. In regard to 
the Account for the previous year, this must reach 
the Treasury by the end of December, with explan- 
ations, wherever required, of the difference between 
estimate and actual expenditure under the several 
subheads of each Vote. It is then examined on behalf 
of the House by the special Public Accounts Com- 
mittee who possess the report of the "C. and A.G.," 
and can challenge the Accounting Officer on any 
point which they wish to raise. 

Thus the two broad functions assigned to "Fi- 
nance/ 1 advice to assist administration, and control 


to secure "regularity" of spending, proceed together 
throughout the year. 

Using the word "department" strictly, there is no 
"Finance Department" of the War Office, but the 
phrase^can be used conveniently to cover two parts 
of a large whole: (i) the finance branches at the War 
Office, and (2) the Local Audit Staff in Commands, 
who are really detached from the War Office 
branches. The military Royal Army Pay Corps, 
which pays the great bulk of the bills of the Army, 
and of which only a small headquarters section is 
actually part of the War Office staff, forms a third 
part of the full picture. 

The organisation is, briefly, as follows: 

Under the Permanent Under-Secretary of State 
the finance branches at the War Office are grouped 
under three Directors of Finance, and controlled by 
a Deputy Under-Secretary of State. They number 
eleven and the general area of the work of each of 
them can be indicated in a few words. 

The first (F.i), already mentioned, deals with 
Estimates and general finance. General finance in- 
cludes, for example, adjustments with other Govern- 
ments and departments, such as the large adjust- 
ments with India; financial statements for the League 
of Nations; banking and foreign exchange questions. 
This is also the branch which, working closely with 
the Adjutant-General, acts as his financial adviser on 
the intricate question of "peace establishments" and 
the control or numbers generally both of the Army 
and of the Reserves. The second (F.2) deals with 


rates of pay and the interpretation of the Pay Warrant 
as it affects the pay of officers and men. Army nurses 
and schoolmistresses ; with marriage allowance ; with 
the establishments of military staffs; and, among a 
host of miscellaneous questions, with the accounts 
of the two "Army Agents/' Either Cox's and King's 
branch of Lloyds Bank, or Holt's branch of Glyn, 
Mills and Co., is appointed by the War Office to 
act as agents to every regiment. They take the place 
of Paymasters for the issue of pay to officers, and 
"Cox's" and "Holt's" have been household words to 
generations of Army officers.* 

The third branch (F.3) deals with half-pay and 
pensions (the "Non-Effective Votes" of the Esti- 
mates) and questions of compensation generally; 
the fourth (.4) with the Territorial Army; the 
fifth (F.5) with the Royal Ordnance Factories, whose 
finance and accounts are a special study and stand 
outside the Army Estimates. There is now no F.6. 
The next (F.y) is concerned with the principles of 
accountancy, and the administration of the audit 
branches in the several Commands, which remain 
to be mentioned. F.8 deals with cash and with 
cash accounts. It draws the cash from the Paymaster- 
General, carries out Headquarter payments, makes 
the claims on other departments and Governments, 
and keeps the main ledger of cash expenditure, 
obtaining reports from all Paymasters and com- 
piling the monthly returns of expenditure. These 
latter are used in framing the forecasts by means 
of which the Finance Committee watches the 
progress of Army Votes. It is also the function of 

* Note 20, page 346. 


this branch to prepare the Account required for 
Parliament. F.g is the office of the Chief Paymaster 
of the Royal Army Pay Corps. It administers the 
*iorps and controls the pay offices in the Commands. is the Cost Accounting branch. 

The remaining two are the special branches at- 
tached v for duty as financial advisers to the "Q.M.G." 
and the "M.G.O." They are there to ensure that 
these Military Members may be given the full 
financial picture of all proposed expenditure, and are 
responsible to the Permanent Under-Secretary of 
State that the money allotted is properly allocated, 
and that all points are duly considered with a view 
to securing economy. Their position is one of dual 
allegiance, which on paper appears to be somewhat 
awkward: in practice it works perfectly well. 

Here, perhaps, three points should be mentioned 
on which confusion sometimes arises. 

The first concerns the sphere of the War Office as 
distinct from that of the Ministry of Pensions. The 
retired pay awarded to officers and nurses is given 
in respect of rank or service, or for disability attrib- 
utable to service. Similarly pensions are awarded to 
soldiers either in respect of long service or of dis- 
abilities (such as wounds) which are "attributable." 
The War Office provides for retired pay or pensions 
awarded for rank and length of service; but, as 
regards disabilities, it is concerned only with those 
incurred after the close of the Great War or in peace- 
time service prior to the war. For death or disabilities 
attributable to service in the Great War (or attrib- 
utable to service in former wars where retired pay 
or pension was first granted before ist October, 


1921) the awards are administered by the Ministry 
of Pensions. To draw the line briefly and very 
roughly, the Ministry of Pensions deals with the 
war: Army funds provide for other pensions. 

The second point concerns the Royal Hospital, 
Chelsea, and the part which it plays in the award of 

The institution of Chelsea Hospital for the 
relief of "aged, maimed and infirm Land Soldiers " 
dates from 1681. A Board of Commissioners was 
first appointed by Letters Patent of 1691. Originally 
the work of the Commissioners was concerned only 
with the Hospital, which was no doubt intended to 
hold all pensioners, who in 1689 numbered 579. 
As numbers increased new duties were added, 
The system of paying "out-pensions," which to-day 
number over 100,000, became unavoidable, and the 
Commissioners were charged with this duty as well. 
All pensions are granted by grace of the Crown, and 
the conditions which govern the award of pensions 
are laid down in royal warrants and regulations. The 
Board receives a man's record of service, with all 
relevant particulars, and proceeds to decide the 
award of a pension according to the terms of the 

Thus the War Office itself does not take part in 
the actual award of a soldier's pension. The Army 
Council are only concerned when the Board recom- 
mends some special treatment, or when questions 
of fact must be decided. For example, it may be 
a question for decision whether a soldier was 
serving on duty when he received certain injuries, 
or whether the illness from which he died was 


attributable, or not, to his military service. On the 
facts of the case the War Office decides : the Board 
of Commissioners, a body appointed by Letters 
Patent, administers the warrants and regulations. 

The third point of some special interest is the 
system of finance of the Ordnance Factories. 

The Factories have their own Estimates. They 
operate manufacturing accounts by which they are 
able to charge their customers, whether the War 
Office, the Admiralty, India or a Dominion, with the 
ascertained cost of each piece of work. The cost 
prices are based on a system which, subject to certain 
modifications (such as including no charge for profit, 
or for rent of land or for interest on capital), is framed 
on modern commercial practice. Normally, therefore, 
no Vote is required, since the charges recover the 
working expenses and enable the Factories to finance 
for themselves all their ordinary needs in capital ser- 
vices; but, in order to obtain the necessary sanction, 
a full Estimate is presented to Parliament annually 
for staflf, wages, stores and so on. After allowing for 
customers' payments, it works down to a token sum. 
Parliament votes jioo. 

Reverting now to the "Finance Department," the 
second part, outside the War Office, consists in the 
staff of Local Auditors, whose offices serve the 
military Commands all Commands at home and 
the larger abroad. 

These were instituted in 1902 as a result of the 
Clinton-Dawkins Committee, who recommended 
a forward policy of "decentralisifig" responsibility 


from the War Office to the local commanders. Like 
the two special branches in the War Office itself (the 
branches for financial advice to the "Q.M.G." and 
the "M.G.O."), the Local Auditors have a dual 
position, being available for advice to military chicib 
and being responsible to the Permanent Under- 
secretary of State, whose officers they, in fact, are. 
Their advice does not bind the administrative 
officers, who are themselves responsible for securing 
economy. They are also more than financial advisers, 
since they audit all the accounts of the Command, 
both for cash and stores, so that no such accounts 
have to come to the War Office, but merely an 
abstract of cash expenditure; and they carry out test 
stock-taking of stores. 

A separate and special audit office, with the title 
"Store Auditor, Woolwich, " is divided between 
Woolwich and Didcot, and is mainly concerned with 
the store accounts of the central depots of ordnance 
stores, and with similar audit and stock-taking 
duties for the central medical and veterinary stores, 
the Research Department, the Inspection depart- 
ments, and other store-using establishments directed 
by the War Office. The audit of local "Command" 
depots falls, of course, to the Local Auditors. The 
audit of the accounts of the Factories is done by a 
section of "F-5" stationed at Woolwich. 

Finally, the Royal Army Pay Corps not itself a 
part of the War Office deals with the receipt and 
disbursement of moneys for Army services in a 
Command, and the compilation of the relevant 
accounts. The Command Paymaster has as his 
military chief the Officer in charge of Administra- 


tion, and on all questions of pay and allowances, and 
the way in which money is brought to account, he 
is the adviser to that officer, who can turn to the 
Local Auditor when doubts arise on financial prin- 
ciple. On questions of ' 'regularity " the Paymaster is 
responsible to the Accounting Officer at the War 
Office 5 for this, in the eyes of the House of Commons, 
is vital to parliamentary control. 

The work of the regimental pay offices is concerned 
with individuals. It deals with the accounts of indi- 
vidual soldiers, reservists and pensioners, and of 
officers and men of the Supplementary Reserve and 
also the Territorial Army. These offices are co- 
ordinated closely with the Record Offices, which 
keep the records of the same regiments and corps. 
There is one Record Office for each arm, apart from 
the case of the Infantry. For the latter there are 1 2 
Record Offices, each dealing with a group of regi- 
ments. In the case of all corps a part of this work 
is carried out under the care of the Paymasters: in 
the case of the Infantry, the whole of it. 

Pay services have an interesting history. When 
the standing Army first came into being, the dis- 
tribution of pay and the keeping of accounts was a 
regimental matter entirely: the Colonel employed a 
"Colonel's Clerk," a civilian of his own choosing. 
At the end of the eighteenth century (25th Decem- 
ber, 1798) Paymasters, with special commissions as 
such, were appointed officially for each regiment, 
and District Paymasters were also instituted. The 
next change came seventy years later when the so- 
called "Control Department," a short-lived feature 
of the Cardwell regime, had a sub-department of 


paymasters for pay duties outside the regiments; 
but these and the regimental Paymasters were 
together absorbed in 1877 in a general Army Pay 
Department. Entrance into this new department 
was restricted to combatant officers, who served s 
"Staff Paymasters" and "Paymasters" with the 
honorary ranks of Major and Captain. Paymasters 
continued to be attached to regiments up to the year 
1890, when a "Station" system was introduced. The 
corps of military "other ranks" was formed in 1893. 

In that year the administration of both the 
department and the corps was removed from the 
sphere of the Financial Secretary to that of the 
Quarter-Master-General, and so remained until 1 905. 
Then followed a transitory phase, recommended by 
the Esher Committee, in which pay, accounting and 
audit duties were combined in a single civilian 
department entitled the "Army Accounts Depart- 
ment." This lasted only till 1909, when the military 
Army Pay Department was reconstituted with its 
present duties. 

The department and corps were honoured by the 
King in recognition of their war services, and in the 
same year (1920) became a united corps of the Army 
with the title "The Royal Army Pay Corps." Its 
responsibility to the Accounting Officer in no way 
impairs its military status. 

This sketch of the functions of Army Finance is 
intended to explain one half of the business which 
falls to the Permanent Under-Secretary of State. 
This half is officially described as follows: 


"Duties connected with his Office as Account- 
ing Officer of Army votes, funds and accounts. 
Control of expenditure, and financial advice 
generally. Consideration and compilation of the 
Parliamentary Estimates. Review of proposals for 
new expenditure, or for redistribution of the sums 
allotted to the different subheads of the Votes. 
Financial adjustments and relations with other 
Departments and Governments. Accounts and 
audit. Non-Effective Votes. Administration of the 
Royal Army Pay Corps." 

The other half of the responsibilities with which 
this Member of Council is charged will be set out in 
the next chapter. 

Under the Deputy Under-Secretary of State and 
the three Directors of Finance, the finance branches 
at the War Office consisted on April ist, 1934, of 
a staff of 257. The majority are civil servants 21 
of the Administrative class, 19 of the Executive 
class, and some 200 of the Clerical class. The per- 
sonnel of the R.A.P.C., employed in the branches 
F9 and, numbered 6 officers and 6 military 

For details of the cost of the Army, its numbers 
and its rates of pay, a large amount of interesting 
information is contained in the book of Army 
Estimates, which is published early in each year. 

Chapter XII 

IN a vast organisation such as the modern War 
Office much must depend upon the pivotal centre 
which is charged with the task of co-ordination and 
the smooth working of the machine as a whole. It 
is this fact that gives a vital character to the position 
of the Permanent Under-Secretary of State, quite 
apart from his functions as Accounting Officer. As 
the channel of communication between the Secretary 
of State and the rest of the department, as the 
Secretary of the Army Council and as the head of 
the permanent staff of the Office, he is charged with 
duties of supreme importance for the efficiency of 
the discharge of business. 

The present Permanent Under-Secretary of State 
once described his position, with too great modesty, 
as largely that of a Remembrancer. He referred in 
this phrase to the Secretariat as a repository of 
experience, a permanent link between past and 
present, the element of continuity amid an ever- 
changing military staff. To keep in touch with the 
Army itself, with its point of view and its difficulties, 
and to know its troubles by personal contact, is 
held to be a very valuable principle in the system 
of short-term military staffs who come from the 
Army to serve at Headquarters for a period of four 
years. To the permanent civilian element falls, 


therefore, the complementary task of providing 
long and continuous experience of the problems of 
Army administration as seen from the standpoint 
of Ministers, of other Departments of State, of the 
public, and indeed of past generations of soldiers 
for "new" ideas are seldom novel. This continuity 
of experience is certainly an asset of great value 
in assisting the discharge of the "central' ' duties 
which fall to the permanent head of the office; 
but "Remembrancer" is too narrow a term, for 
"the general control of War Office procedure and 
the conduct of official business" a primary function 
of the "P. U.S." is merely the official expression of 
a duty which, in plainer language, is responsibility 
for the efficient working of the whole department. 

Under the heading of "general control," the pur- 
suit of expedition without loss of efficiency, and the 
avoidance of that written circumlocution which was 
once the taunt of all Government offices, are the con- 
stant aims of the modern regime. Naturally, consulta- 
tion on paper is very largely indispensable; for a glance 
at the framework of the machine, with its several dis- 
tinct military departments, each sub-divided into 
many sections, its branches for contracts and lands 
business, its finance division and its secretariat, is 
sufficient reminder of the many interests that a single 
subject may concern. A purchase of land for training, 
for example, will affect more than one of the military 
branches, may involve estate and legal questions, 
and may even possess political aspects, apart from its 
financial side: the Air Ministry or other depart- 
ments may possibly be concerned in it : and to over- 
look even a minor interest will probably result in 


loss of time and, in any case, in some wasted effort. 
Consultation on paper is quite essential for co- 
ordinating so large a department. The point stressed 
is rather that verbal discussion is a feature of modern 
War Office methods as opposed to that writing of 
lengthy "minutes" which distinguished procedure 
in older days. 

It is not a question of telephones or of other 
modern facilities, though the lack of these is too 
little remembered in criticising "the old days." The 
real task of the "P. U.S.," as responsible for the 
conduct of business, is concerned with questions of 
greater moment than mere convenience of working 
methods, or even of mere co-ordination, though the 
latter is an important feature. It is more truly one of 
co-operation. The public probably conceives of a 
department as a single unified entity; but actually, 
like any other large business, it is a mass of interests 
and points of view which are often divergent and 
sometimes clashing, and which only result in con- 
certed decisions by a process of mutual understanding. 
Thirty years ago this division of interests provided 
a background for plausible tales of miVitary-versus- 
civilian differences; but to-day such tales are no 
longer heard. The task of "general control" at its 
best is to secure that spirit of mutual confidence 
between the several parts of a large whole which 
results in a concerted policy undelayed by protracted 
disputes; and the whole trend of the "control" of 
to-day is certainly towards that end. 

Given the existence of that widened outlook, that 
appreciation of "the other view," which is here 
claimed for the military staff of to-day no less than it 


is for the civil servant, the mere discarding of formal 
procedures can do much to expedite business. Thus, 
even at the highest level, formal meetings of the 
Army Council, with all the machinery of printed 
precis, are so infrequent as to be rare. As a Board 
the Council is seldom seen; but Council decisions 
are giv y en daily. There are frequent meetings of two 
or more Councillors, with or without Ministers, to 
expedite important decisions. There are regular 
meetings of the Military Members to talk over 
matters of military policy or of military administra- 
tion; and these are assisted by the "P. U.S." on 
financial or other civil aspects. Again, in times of 
emergency, informal meetings of the Army Council 
are held as often as once a day, or even more than 
once a day: some such occasions were the General 
Strike, the Turko-Greek troubles at Chanak, or the 
despatch of the Shanghai Defence Force. For the 
rest, decisions are taken on paper; but, subject to 
proper records being kept, informal discussion "off 
the paper" is encouraged wherever it is likely to help 
in the speeding up of office procedure. In this kind 
of way "control of procedure" can vitally affect 

In the actual machinery of co-ordination the 
responsibility of the "P. U.S." for the signature of 
all important letters and orders of the Army Council 
is, of course, a material point. The object of this duty 
is to ensure that the decision conveyed in the letter 
is complete and authoritative. When a letter goes out 
from the War Office "by command of the Army 
Council," no matter from which branch it may 
emanate, it is, as it purports to be, a decision of all 


the authorities concerned. It is, therefore, the business 
of the "P.U.S.," or that of the Assistant Under- 
secretary of State who may sign the letter on his 
behalf, to see that all Members of Council concerned 
are parties to the communication, either personally 
in larger questions or through their branches in 
those of less importance. In addition important in- 
coming letters are sorted out from the daily post- 
bags to be shown at once to the "P.U.S."; and simi- 
larly lists are compiled currently of all important 
Treasury decisions and are circulated to Members of 
Council and Directors. 

Other ways and means of co-ordination will be 
mentioned in sketching the duties of the branches. 
* * # # 

Apart from the control of business generally, the 
other "central" duties of the "P.U.S." are officially 
summarised as follows: 

"Duties connected with his office as Secretary 
of the Army Council. The domestic economy of 
the War Office. Parliamentary and legal business. 
Committees. The Army Lists. Editing and issue 
of Army regulations, Army Orders, Army Council 
Instructions and other publications. Printing and 
Stationery Services. Communications with the 
Press. The administration of the Royal Army 
Chaplains' Department. Conditions of employ- 
ment of all civilian staffs." 

Of these the widest is "domestic economy," since 
it covers the whole sphere of office arrangements, 
including the important part of the mechanism 
which is known as the Registry, or "R." This is 


a central organisation which acts on behalf of all 
branches. With a vast volume of correspondence for 
distribution among scores of branches it is important 
to provide a comprehensive system of identifying each 
particular file, and of keeping track of its whereabouts 
during the course of its circulation. A central Registry 
was first adopted when the various departments of 
Army administration were amalgamated in 1856 to 
form a united War Department, and, basically, the 
existing Registry system is a modernised and im- 
proved version of the excellent plan of those old 

The system may be called "subjective." When 
the new correspondence has been opened and sorted, 
the papers are classified according to subject, each 
generic subject possessing a number "345" for 
example, signifying Inspections; while a heading, 
such as * 'Cavalry/' indicates the particular branch of 
the subject, and a sub-number, say "242," identifies 
this particular file. Thus the 242nd file which deals 
with the inspection of Cavalry bears, so to speak, an 
identity disc in the number marked on its official 
"jacket" "34! Cavalry / 242": and a "transit section" 
of the Registry, operating with loose-leaf ledgers, 
records its movements wherever it goes. Thus fresh 
correspondence on an "old" subject can be placed 
at once in its proper file, and the whole dossier on 
any subject is available at short notice to any branch 
which requires to see it. There is, of course, a mass 
of correspondence which does not require fresh 
registration, since files on the subjects are "open" 
already. Thus the number of files which were newly 
"registered" in the twelve months of 1933 was 


233,426 ; but the volume of ' 'unregistered " post was 
roughly two and a half times as large. 

Naturally, in the case of a new file, one of the 
several duties of "R" is to mark it at once to tfre 
branch of the Office which is primarily concerned in 
taking action. At the headquarters offices of the mili- 
tary Commands the card-index system has been 
adopted ; but the volume of correspondence received 
by the War Office is so vast and intricate that the 
book-record system, with its smaller risk of "losing" 
files by displacement of cards, is still preferred. The 
"registered" post for 1919 numbered 4,360,000 
letters, and the present system stood up to the strain. 
Files not in use are stored on racks, and the "press- 
keepers," as the staff is called (because the files were 
originally stored in "presses"), have charge to-day of 
4,000,000 papers. The "weeding" of files with a view 
to their destruction is, therefore, another duty of "R," 
and one which requires much knowledge and experi- 
ence, for all the papers of Government Departments 
become the property of the Master of the Rolls and 
can be destroyed only under strict rules. At the end 
of the war the registered files had risen from 3 to 
over 10 millions: and of these over 6| millions have 
now been weeded as obsolete; but much work still 
remains to be done. 

Thus, to sum up, the Registry at the War Office 
is organised in three divisions for Registration, 
Transit and Press, and constitutes an extremely 
important element in the general scheme of co- 
ordination for which the "P. U.S." is responsible. 

A few explanatory details follow as regards each 
of the main headings of work; and these, for the 


convenience of the reader, are arranged under the 
names of the branches which deal with them, in order 
to show the organisation. 

.Further work for the correlation of business falls 
to the branch numbered "C.i." The circulation 
within the department of important decisions and 
memoranda, and the preparation of domestic instruc- 
tions for the information and guidance of the Office, 
are part of the duties of this small section. The latter 
include Office Memoranda, a Chronology of annual 
events, and an imposing book of Office Instructions 
which the newcomer reads (it is hoped) with great 
profit. Other duties include the preparation of 
precis for the meetings of the Army Council, and 
of special papers for the Secretary of State ; the for- 
mation of committees and the handling of their 
reports ; and such general and miscellaneous matters 
as applications for official assistance in the making 
of films with a military interest, or the disposal of 
local military trophies. 

Some of the most difficult work concerns charitable 
and other grants of money. Small sums are pro- 
vided in Army Estimates for grants to churches 
and hospitals and other charitable institutions; but 
the Council also has at its disposal a limited amount 
of non-public funds, and the distribution of these 
in the best interests of officers, soldiers and military 
families requires judicious handling. In this work 
C.I is the focussing point; the actual allocation of 
money being largely, of course, a military interest. 
The profits made by the Royal Tournament (which 
dates from the year 1880) go to swell the annual 
charity grants. 


Parliamentary and legal business is the first charge 

C */" ~ 

or C.2, 

To the public its most familiar productions are, 
doubtless, the answers given by Ministers to fhe 
questions put by Members of Parliament. The 
precise tone of the answer given will depend on the 
Minister charged with replying, but the facts of the 
case are supplied by the department, all too often 
at very short notice and a certain expense of public 
money on telegrams and telephone calls. Why a 
military band played tunes at a fte in some remote 
and unheard-of village, or why the father of a 
certain soldier has applied in vain for his son's dis- 
charge these are not points which the War Office 
can answer without incurring considerable labour; 
but it is a point of honour with a Government De- 
partment though one or two cynical souls among 
the public may harbour unworthy doubts on the 
matter that the facts supplied shall be strictly 
accurate. " Questions " can give a great deal of 
trouble in collecting the facts in a large Department. 

The main parliamentary work of the branch is 
concerned with proposals for legislation. The 
Department has certain bills of its own, such as 
the Army and Air Force Annual Bill; but all 
public and private bills and provisional orders 
presented to the House require to be watched very 
carefully for the due protection of War Office 
interests. (A bill relating to Diseases of Fish has 
been found to affect the War Department!) This 
branch is concerned also with the Crown, in the 
sense of preparing the formal submissions by 
which His Majesty's pleasure is taken. Thus the 


holding of manoeuvres, to quote an example, requires 
by statute an Order in Council. If a change is made 
in the Army Council, the King's authority is sought 
by^ warrants for the issue of the necessary Letters 
Patent. The appeals made by officers under the 
Army Act, the petitions to the King which any sub- 
ject may lodge, and the proceedings of certain types 
of courts-martial, similarly require a formal pro- 
cedure. Arrangements for attendance at levees and 
investitures, and the keeping of the register of the 
"D.S.O.," are other types of a host of duties which 
fall to this part of the Secretariat. 

Appropriately the legal work is coupled with the 
parliamentary, since the two are frequently inter- 
mingled. Here the War Office is well armed, since 
it possesses direct access to an important group of 
legal advisers. On the drafting of parliamentary bills 
the Parliamentary Counsel at the Treasury con- 
tributes more than expert knowledge. On cases in- 
volving criminal law the Director of Public Prose- 
cutions advises. The day-to-day business is more 
largely concerned with the civil law; and here the 
department of the Treasury Solicitor gives constant 
and unfailing assistance on an almost unlimited range 
of subjects. For Scotland the War Office employs its 
own solicitor, and can also consult the Lord Advo- 
cate. Finally, on military law the department's official 
legal adviser is the Judge Advocate General to the 
Forces, In the case of all these legal officers the 
official files are "minuted to them in the same way 
as to War Office branches. 

Indeed the last-named officer, the "J.A.G.," is 
in a measure a part of the War Office, though he 


stands in an independent position as direct adviser 
to the Secretary of State. The office is one of great 
antiquity, to which time has brought striking and 
interesting changes. It dates at least from the 
seventeenth century, when the "J.A.G." was for 
practical purposes a public prosecutor to the Army, 
acting on behalf of the Sovereign, and one of his 
duties was to * 'pursue offenders to punishment 
before a Court-martial." Later he was normally a 
member of the Government, and was secretary and 
legal adviser to the Board of General Officers, a 
capacity in which his sphere of influence was con- 
siderably wider than military law. In the nineteenth 
century the "J.A.G." became legal adviser to the 
Commander-in-Chief, and still had a seat in the 
House of Commons as the mouthpiece of the 
Government, if the actions or the office of the 
C.-in-C. were subjected to parliamentary attack. From 
1892 onwards he ceased to be a Minister, but his 
position to-day remains special in character. He holds 
his appointment under Letters Patent, being adviser 
to the Secretary of State for War (and now also to the 
Secretary of State for Air) and custodian of the 
proceedings of all courts-martial. His important 
functions in relation to courts-martial have been 
mentioned in a previous chapter (page 1 32), but he is 
legal adviser on other matters, also, as the Secretary 
of State may at any time require. 

As an illustration of the many subjects possessing 
a legal or quasi-legal bearing with which the War 
Office is confronted, one which has excited some 
public attention is the policy governing the disclosure 
or non-disclosure of confidential information. To 


plead privilege, for example, for medical reports, 
which are necessarily confidential documents, may 
become a very delicate matter of weighing two dis- 
tir^ct public interests : and the burden rests on the 
Secretary of State. This is a case where Government 
Departments are unreasonably considered to be un- 
reasonable. A second example which affects the public 
is the duty laid upon the Army Council by Act of 
Parliament (the Geneva Convention Act of 1911) of 
protecting the use of the Red Cross emblem. The use 
of the Red Cross is confined by international agree- 
ment to the medical services of the Forces of the 
Crown and to duly authorised Voluntary Aid Societies, 
and the number of civil hospitals and traders who 
occasionally attempt to make use of the emblem re- 
veals a widespread ignorance of the fact that its use 
is contrary to the law of the land. The three authorised 
Voluntary Aid Societies are the British Red Cross, the 
Order of St. John of Jerusalem, and the St. Andrew's 
Ambulance Association, who undertake definite 
obligations for supplementing the medical services 
of the Navy, the Army and the Air Force in war. 

A separate section of this large branch deals with 
the control of expenditure which is charged to the 
Votes of the Stationery Office. The service rendered 
by His Majesty's Stationery Office to all Government 
Departments alike is known technically as a "free 
service," and its cost is not paid by Army funds; but 
the obligation to pursue economy is rigorously 
observed by the War Office. The average expenditure 
for Army purposes on stationery and office requisites, 
printing of all descriptions required, published books 
and periodicals, and office machinery ranging from 


typewriters to the most elaborate accounting machines, 
is about 150,000 a year. There is a printing press 
in the War Office itself for secret and confidential 
work. In addition to mobilisation reserves, large 
stocks of printed matter are required by the Army 
for current work, such as training manuals and Army 
forms (of which there are some 3,000 varieties), and 
these are stored at a depot at Wandsworth, where 
they are packed and distributed. The weight of the 
stock for all purposes is about 1,500 tons. 

The most important work of this section is a 
constant campaign of economy, which is possible 
in two directions: in cutting down the number of 
publications for example, the number of Army 
forms and in pruning the distribution lists. As 
an instance, "Notes on Map Reading" has a 
distribution of 48,000 copies on the basis that 
issue is strictly confined to those who must actually 
use the book; and a similar method of restricting 
issues is applied to some 2,000 publications. This 
is a case where centralisation is definitely economical. 
The distribution of Army Orders requires about 
8,000 copies. For economy in printing costs a 
considerable amount of duplicating work is done 
by electrically-driven machines. For typing and 
shorthand-typing work a department familiarly 
known as "T" is ruled by a Controller of Typists, 
with a staff of some 120 ladies. 

Yet another section, a very small one, deals with 
all information given to the Press on subjects which 
affect or interest the public. Official communiques 
are issued almost daily, but the work consists mainly 
of replying to enquiries. The policy is to encourage 


enquiries ; and a development of recent years is the 
holding of conferences on special occasions when 
matters of current military interests are explained 
to the Press by senior officers. Great trust is placed 
in 'the loyalty of the newspapers in the matter of 
non-publication of news which might, especially in 
an emergency, be damaging to the public interest; 
and several years before the Great War a liaison 
Committee came into being (the Admiralty, War 
Office and Press Committee) which set up a volun- 
tary system of control. That system worked well both 
in peace and in war; and the Committee, expanded 
to include the Air Ministry, remains in existence 
to-day. Here the Press renders valuable assistance 
through the medium of representatives of the news- 
paper owners of the United Kingdom. The im- 
portant principle of ' Tress' ' policy is that all 
newspapers shall be treated alike. 

The editing of War Office publications is the 
charge of the third branch (C-3). The "big five" in 
this connection, giving them their short titles, are 
the King's Regulations, the Pay Warrant, the Allow- 
ance Regulations, the T.A. Regulations and the 
Regulations for the Supplementary Reserve; but the 
editorial scrutiny extends to the whole mass of War 
Office literature textbooks, handbooks, manuals, 
and pamphlets. 

Part of the work is the review and publication 
of Army Orders and Army Council Instructions, 
the former being public and placed on sale, and 
the latter more temporary and domestic in character. 
Army Orders date from 1888 and are the means 
of promulgating Royal Warrants, Orders made by 


of about fifteen hundred a week. Ex-officers and 
soldiers seeking employment wish to obtain a record 
of service or to replace a lost discharge certificate ; 
old soldiers or their children ask for evidence of age 
which will satisfy the Old Age Pensions authorities; 
the Civil Service Commissioners, private employers, 
Regimental Associations and Aid Societies, the 
police, recruiting officers, or Employment Exchanges 
require details of Army service, either for assisting 
men to employment or, sometimes, for checking 
their misdemeanours. 

In addition, there are miscellaneous records 
which claim 400 enquiries a week touching on 
every conceivable subject of military activity. These 
include full particulars of all campaigns from 
1879 onwards; the casualty lists of the Great War; 
the records of the headquarters staffs in all theatres 
of operations, of the Armies in the field and the 
Armies of Occupation, of the women's corps and 
the civilian subordinates; and the schedules of 
honours and awards granted for service in the field. 
Items of particular interest are the records of enemy 
prisoners of war inherited from a temporary war-time 
department (The Prisoners of War Information 
Bureau), and the files of the special Government 
Committee on the treatment by the enemy of British 
prisoners. Finally there are maps, nearly 20,000 in 
number, some of which date from the seventeenth 
century and possess very great historical interest. 
These records are housed at Wai worth. 
# # # # 

The central work hitherto mentioned is con- 
:rolled, under the "P.U.S.," by the Assistant Under- 


Secretary of State; but the main duties of .4 and the 
whole of the duties of C-5 are joined to the charge of 
the Deputy Under-Secretary. These latter branches 
de^l with the civil staffs and the wages, salaries and 
conditions of service of all industrial employees. 

The main civil staff of the War Office belongs 
to what are called "Treasury" classes that is to 
say, it is graded and classified on a basis common 
to the whole Civil Service; but .4, in addition to 
these classes, is concerned with the clerical staffs and 
typists employed by the Department's "out-stations" ; 
while the work of C.5 has a very large scope, embrac- 
ing the bulk of civilian employees, roughly speaking, 
other than clerical. At its various factories, store 
depots, barracks, hospitals and other institutions at 
home stations the Department employs (including 
women and lads) some 29,500 civilians; and 4,500 
at stations abroad such as Malta, Gibraltar, Egypt 
and China. The majority, of course, are industrial 
employees, such as mechanics, labourers and store- 
hands, or "domestic" staffs at schools, etc.: the 
minority are supervisory staffs or technical staffs for 
drawing offices, clerks of works or surveyors' clerks. 
The pay-roll of these employees at home is about 
4,500,000 a year; and the rates of pay are very 
numerous; but, apart from the fixing and reviewing 
of wages, the work in connection with conditions of 
service, disciplinary questions, the policy of dis- 
charges, and consideration of complaints and appeals, 
which at times involve the attention of Ministers, is 
necessarily a heavy task. The Regulations for Civilian 
Employees occupy, quite unavoidably, a book of 
some 200 pages. 


In fixing wage-rates for its workpeople the War 
Office follows the lead of the House of Commons 
by adopting the principles of the "fair wages'* 
required to be paid by Government contractors 
under the Fair Wages Resolution. The main under- 
taking thus involved is to "pay rates of wages and 
observe hours of labour not less favourable than 
those commonly recognised by employers and 
trade societies (or, in the absence of such recog- 
nised wages and hours, those which in practice pre- 
vail amongst good employers) in the trade in the 
district where the work is carried out." This task 
is as complicated as it sounds. The national policy 
as regards employing ex-service men is also fully 
observed by the department. 

Finally, the Whitley system of councils for 
negotiations between employers and employed 
the "official side" and the "employees' side" 
forms a considerable addition to the work. The 
"War Department Industrial Council," of which 
the Financial Secretary is chairman, covers the 
workpeople generally; and the "War Office Ad- 
ministrative Whitley Council," whose chairman is 
the "P.U.S.," deals with the clerical and other 
grades. The Industrial Council and its local com- 
mittees may deal with all matters touching employ- 
ment except wages and other questions which come 
under the heading of "trade matters." The latter 
are reserved to Trade Councils represented on the 
official side by the Government Departments which 
principally employ the particular class (engineering, 
building trade, shipbuilding or miscellaneous labour), 
and on the employees' side by the Trades Unions. 


These are not the only such bodies concerned: for 
example, the Shop Stewards' Committee at Woolwich 
has been prominent since pre-Whitley days. This 
machinery adds to the work of the War Office, but 
has accomplished much in avoidance of friction and 
the settlement of difficult problems. 

From the list of duties quoted above there remains 
the administration of the Chaplaincy Services. For 
denominations other than the Roman Catholic the 
general control, under the "P. U.S.," is vested in the 
Chaplain-General to the Forces, assisted by a Deputy 
Chaplain-General. The Roman Catholic Chaplaincy 
Services are separately administered. 

Chaplains have accompanied armies in the field 
since the earliest exploits of British arms, but the first 
appointment of a "Chaplain to the Army" is found in 
Cromwell's "New Model," most of the regiments of 
which had chaplains. At the Restoration chaplains 
were appointed by the King, fully commissioned, to 
every regiment, and the Articles of War of 1662 
prescribed that "the chaplains to the Troops of 
Guards and others in Regiments shall every day read 
the Common Prayers of the Church of England to 
the soldiers respectively under their charge, and to 
preach to them as often as with convenience shall be 
thought fit." This regimental system broke down, 
since most regiments at home were scattered in 
billets, and the appointment of chaplain, obtained by 
purchase, became little more than a sinecure. A royal 
warrant of 1796, which appointed the first Chaplain- 
General, attempted a reorganisation without any 


pronounced success; and a second attempt in 1809 
which appointed a number of Staff Chaplains the 
first step towards the present department was so 
far lacking in lasting effect that the number of ch.ap- 
lains who held these commissions in 1843 was ^ ve - 
Real reform had to wait for Sidney Herbert working 
with a famous figure the Rev. Prebendary Gleig. 

The latter was first the Principal Chaplain and 
then Chaplain-General for 3 1 years (i 844-75), which 
saw the Chaplaincy Service of the Army built up 
anew, properly equipped, and extended to embrace 
the several denominations. The close connection of 
the Chaplain-General with the reform of military 
education has been mentioned in a former chapter. 
The establishment of Chaplains in 1914 was 117: 
at the end of the war the numbers had risen to close 
upon 3,500. The establishment now is 138, and a 
principal task for the War Office is to secure that 
the fullest advantage is obtained from the limited 
number of Regular chaplains by posting them to 
those garrisons where their services will have the 
widest scope. At stations where the numbers of a 
particular denomination do not justify the employ- 
ment of a regular Chaplain, civilian officiating chap- 
lains are appointed. An Advisory Committee, on 
which all the Churches are represented, assists the 
Department in dealing with questions of the moral 
and spiritual welfare of the troops. 

There are also one or two central sections which 
occupy a special position. One is the province of 
Actuaries, who produce indispensable calculations 
which the plain man accepts with awe ; another deals 
with the Income Duty assessed on all the * 'taxable 


emoluments" which are paid out of Army funds; and 
a third is the War Office Library. 

The Library is well known, since it contains the 
langest collection of military books in Great Britain. 
Its origin may be credited to the famous Duke of 
York, who wrote to Mr. Pitt in 1 804 recommending 
the "formation of a deposit for military knowledge," 
one section of which was to be a military library. 
There are, indeed, many books at the War Office 
which still bear the label "Military Depot, Q.M.G.'s 
Dept" The Library remained a small affair down 
to the time of Lord Panmure (1855-58), but his 
interest resulted in a "Librarian's Branch," and a 
few years later the Franco-German War gave a 
great impetus to the collection of literature for 
the newly enlarged Topographical branch which 
was destined to grow, in due course, to be an 
important part of the General Staff. In 1860 the 
number of volumes was probably not more than 
5,000: to-day there are 135,000, in addition to 
4,000 pamphlets which were issued during the 
Great War. 

There are two sections, a General Staff Library and 
a Parliamentary and Reference Library. The former 
consists of works in all languages which deal with the 
history, military resources, geography and statistics 
of foreign countries, and the art and science of war 
generally. All important foreign publications are thus 
available to the General Staff. The other section is in 
constant use for reference to parliamentary debates, 
sessional papers, the historical records of regiments 
and corps, and scientific and legal works. The earliest 
printed book in the Library is dated 1573. This is a 


scarce work by Peter Whitehorne entitled Certayne 
wayes for the ordering of souldiours in battelray, and 
setting oj ' battayles, after divers fashions ^with their maner 
of marching: and also figures of certayne newplattes^for 
fortification of townes, etc. Modern literature, whether 
military or parliamentary, can certainly make no 
claim to scarcity: the Librarians spend busy days. 

Finally, from the civil staff are provided the 
Private Secretaries to Ministers, to the "P. U.S." 
and to the Deputy Under-Secretary; and the three 
"Resident Clerks," who dwell in quarters on the 
fourth floor and are on duty when the Office is 
otherwise closed. As to the duties of the Resident 
Clerks, the writer long ago formed the opinion that 
there was no limit to their possibilities. The par- 
ticular occasion for this conclusion was a very hot 
Saturday afternoon in June, in the far-off days before 
the war, when a messenger (a commissionaire) 
arrived in triumph with an enormous bead, about the 
size of a blackbird's egg, consisting apparently of 
glass. This messenger had been engaged in clearing 
the debris from the War Office stands at the Horse 
Guards building after the ceremony of Trooping the 
Colour, and the huge bead was among his finds. As 
a find it was not in the premier class a silk garment 
was judged to be first : its appearance was dingy and 
unprepossessing: but the Resident Clerk, acting in 
the best official traditions, locked it up in a safe with 
the secret ciphers, never dreaming that the tele- 
phones at Scotland Yard were ringing busily on 
account of its loss. It was something of a shock on 
the Monday morning when discreet detectives in- 
vaded the War Office. 


This incident had a happy ending, for the 
messenger was allowed to restore his find to its 
owner in person, and the Indian prince, whose 
tvrban had contrived to discard its diamonds, 
rewarded him with a handsome gift. 

Historically the post of Secretary of the War 
Office, and head of the permanent civil staff, can be 
traced back to an early official with the title of 
"Deputy Secretary-at-War." The Commissioners of 
Military Enquiry, reporting in the year 1808, 
described the Deputy Secretary-at-War as the Senior 
Permanent Official who conducted the correspond- 
ence and, under the authority of the Secretary-at- 
War, directed the business of the department, with 
the exception of the Accounts branch. It was he, we 
are told, who conveyed to the Office the pleasure of 
the Secretary-at-War. 

The earliest recorded holder of the post was a 
gentleman named Theophilus Blyke, appointed in 
1717, who may himself have had predecessors, 
though their names in earlier days are lost. At the 
end of the eighteenth century his importance was 
certainly considered to be great, since his salary 
rose from 320 in the year 1782 to 2,000 in 
1798, and 2,500 in 1806 a figure which, allow- 
ing for changes in value, appears enviable to modern 
eyes. Some fifty years later (1851) Mr. Fox-Maule, 
later Lord Panmure, described the Deputy Secretary- 
at-War as equal in point of rank and position to an 
Under-Secretary of State. Then in the post-Crimean 
change, when the Secretary-at-War was himself 


absorbed, the post of Deputy was abolished, and tne 
last holder. Sir Benjamin Hawes, became Perma- 
nent Under-Secretary of State. 

Sir R. W. Thompson, Sir A. L. Haliburton, ir 
Ralph Knox and Sir Edward Ward are well-known 
names in the subsequent line. In the Esher changes 
of 1904 the title was changed to "Secretary of the 
War Office." In 1920 there were two Joint Secre- 
taries (Sir Herbert Greedy and Sir Charles Harris) 
who were also made Members of the Army Council ; 
and finally, in 1924, the post regained its older title, 
and the present "Permanent Under-Secretary of 
State," already the Secretary and a member of the 
Council, was also appointed Accounting Officer. 

Apart from the Under-Secretaries of State, the 
civil staff of the central branches serving at the War 
Office on April ist, 1934, consisted of the following 
numbers: Administrative class, 16; Clerical class 
and other clerks, 171. The typing staff for the 
whole department numbered 126, and Presskeepers, 
Messengers, Cleaners, etc., numbered 362. The 
plan of the distribution of work in the whole depart- 
ment finance and central of the Permanent 
Under-Secretary of State is shown in the diagram 


)** s w 


:he Perman 

3* ?20 

1 u s 



5 w 

7 > 



i r. 
C/3 A 5 

8 ^ 

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Chapter XIII 

THE year 1914 did not open propitiously for the 
War Office. The Army was in a ferment. Ulstermen 
had vowed that they would never accept the Home 
Rule Bill which seemed likely to become law, and an 
Ulster Defence Force had been organised. Born of 
passionate speeches and newspaper articles, the wild 
rumour ran through the Army that the Liberal 
Government, a Protestant body, proposed to employ 
the forces of the Crown to attack and crush Protestant 

Colonel Seely, now Lord Mottistone, was then 
the Secretary of State for War, Sir John French 
was "C.I.G.S.," and Sir Spencer Ewart was Adju- 
tant-General. As early as December 1913 they had 
summoned to the War Office all the General Officers 
Commanding-in-Chief, and had informed them, in 
view of disquieting rumours to the effect that officers 
would resign their commissions if ordered to attack 
Ulster, that no intention had ever existed of giving 
any such orders to the troops : what had to be faced 
was the possibility of action to protect life and 
property, if the civil power could not hold its own. 

However, in March plots were on foot among the 
wilder spirits in Ireland to seize munitions which 
belonged to the Army at Armagh, Omagh and else- 
where. The Government desired to protect these 


arms, and hoped that troops could be moved for this 
purpose without precipitating a crisis ; but the orders 
set the Curragh ablaze. The officers received a wrong 
impression: they thought that the intention behind 
these orders was to initiate active military operations. 
The rumoured surprise attack on Ulster, of which 
they had read and heard so much, appeared now to 
be confirmed; and General Gough and fifty-seven 
officers of the 3rd Cavalry Brigade at the Curragh 
announced that they preferred to accept dismissal if 
ordered to proceed north. As a matter of fact they 
were to be sent south, and this misapprehension was 
soon removed; but, when General Gough was sum- 
moned to the War Office, the Secretary of State gave 
him a document initialled by himself, Sir John 
French and General Ewart, which by some means 
or other was published in the Press and appeared, 
with certain amendments in manuscript, to constitute 
a sort of private bargain between the Government and 
the "rebellious'* officers. 

Then the storm broke in Press and Parliament. 
Furious demands were made that the document 
should be withdrawn; but Sir John French refused 
to withdraw. The resignations of the Field-Marshal 
and Sir Spencer Ewart were announced in the House 
on March 3Oth; and the Secretary of State resigned 
also. Mr. Asquith, the Prime Minister, took over 
the Seals of the War Office himself, explaining that 
the events were such, in his view, as to constitute 
"a great public emergency/' 

These events were not lost on the Wilhelmstrasse. 

Later, in July, the Chancellor of the Exchequer 
(Mr. Lloyd George) informed the House of Commons 


that there were hopeful signs throughout the world 
of a reaction against expenditure on armaments. 
On the night of August 4th-5th Great Britain 
entered the World War. 

The war is a long way away now. Distinguished 
people can write with detachment, far removed from 
the heart-stopping strain, to point out the incredible 
folly of others. The work of certain Government 
Departments is obscured by a smoke-cloud of per- 
sonalities. The shock of a nightmare found to be 
real, the rush, the political obstacles, . . . these and 
many other things cease to be seen in due perspective, 
and especially the very limited role assigned to the 
Army in pre-war plans. To rise to the measure of a 
world war was doubtless a less exacting task in the 
sphere of national finance, or the management of the 
great Fleet to which the country had pinned its 
faith, than it was in the case of our very small Army. 
For a war overseas the nation had provided a force 
of six Divisions no more, apart from the troops at 
colonial stations and the garrison of India. Few states- 
men had visions of anything larger. Few people, 
perhaps, had vision at all; but among the few was 
Lord Kitchener of Khartoum who on August 6th, 
two days after the outbreak of war, was hurriedly 
appointed to be Secretary of State. 

His name was one to conjure with. It conjured 
into being great new armies with which no machinery 
existed to deal, which the factories shared by the 
Fighting Services were never designed or intended 
to arm, which no Government had ever contem- 


pflated. The thing was done with painful labour, 
with grave delays and misunderstandings, in an 
atmosphere of public excitement not far short of 
hysteria. The bare facts are that in the four years the 
War Office became responsible for the conduct of 
operations at Gallipoli, Salonika, Mesopotamia (the 
latter part of the campaign only), Palestine, Italy, 
Africa and Russia, apart altogether from the western 
front; and for maintaining British forces which 
grew in numbers, not including Dominion troops, 
to 3,500,000 men. In France it became responsible 
also for the food, stores and maintenance generally of 
Dominion and Colonial forces, and latterly of part of 
the American troops. At home it was concerned with 
at least three armies ... the army of men who were 
under training, the army of the sick and wounded, 
and the host of dependants of the fighting men. 

In such matters as supply and transport, the accom- 
modation of troops in this country, the training of 
recruits who numbered millions, or the payment of 
these colossal numbers in half a dozen theatres of war, 
the extra burden shouldered by the War Office is 
easy, perhaps, to understand. Less obvious are the 
new developments which had no precedent in peace 
... for example, the business of censorship, and later 
of propaganda work, which fell to the General Staff 
to organise; the anxious problem of finding the men 
which distracted the Adjutant-General's department 
when the voluntary effort had spent itself and the 
cautious steps taken by the Cabinet in the direction 
of compulsory military service threatened to fail to 
provide the numbers; or, again, the financial adjust- 
ments entailed by the desire of the Dominion 


Governments to pay for the issues made in the field 
for the maintenance of their own contingents. These 
are only a few instances: the burden fell on all 

At the outbreak of war the Military Members 
were: C.I.G.S. General Sir Charles Douglas; Ad- 
jutant-General Lieut.-General Sir Henry Sclater; 
Q.M.G. Major-General Sir John Cowans; M.G.O. 
Major-General Stanley von Donop. Sir Charles 
Douglas died in October, and was succeeded by 
Lieut.-General Sir J. Wolfe Murray. The leading 
permanent civilians were Sir Reginald Brade, Secre- 
tary of the War Office, and Sir Charles Harris, 
Assistant Financial Secretary. The present Perma- 
nent Under-Secretary of State (Sir Herbert Creedy) 
was private secretary to Lord Kitchener. 

The Expeditionary Force, as everyone knows, 
was landed in France without a hitch. Four Divisions 
and the Cavalry Division (embarked August gth to 
2oth) fought in the retreat from Mons. A fifth 
Division (August 2ist to 23rd) arrived in time to 
fight at Le Cateau. The sixth followed on September 
8th and gth. These numbers amounted in round 
figures to 160,000 men. On September loth came 
a break in the tension when the Germans were 
forced back from the Marne to the Aisne. In October 
the gallant attempt to save Antwerp was followed by 
the first battle of Ypres and terrible lists of casualties. 
Then came a lull on the western front from the end 
of November to the following March, and during 
the course of this "dreary deadlock" the French 
Government returned to Paris (December i ith, 


Meanwhile the following steps had been taken. 
The 14 Divisions of the Territorial Force were 
embodied at once on the outbreak of war, and in 
September 14 more were authorised. Two Regular 
Divisions (the yth and 8th) were formed from units 
in overseas garrisons, to be followed shortly by 3 
more (the 27th, 28th and 29th); and 2 Cavalry 
Divisions were formed in France. In addition, under 
the Kitchener scheme, 5 New Armies (30 Divisions) 
had begun to be formed before the end of the year. 
Parliament had voted the following numbers ad- 
ditional to the original estimate for the year: on 
August 7th, 500,000; on September I4th, 500,000; 
and on November 2oth, 1,000,000 men. The total 
enlistments in the first five months were 1,186,357. 
Moreover, India had despatched a number of 
forces : 2 Divisions and 2 Cavalry Divisions of the 
Indian Army to France, and smaller forces to East 
Africa, Mesopotamia and Egypt. The first Canadian 
and Newfoundland contingents left for England on 
October 3rd. The first Australian and New Zealand 
contingents arrived at Suez on December ist. 

On November 3rd an event took place which was 
destined to throw a vast new burden on a War Office 
which was already swamped, but not submerged, in 
the rising waves of a sea of troubles : the Fleet bom- 
barded the Dardanelles. 

Every day of these months brought a host of 
problems . . . legislation required, terms of enlist- 
ment, instructors for training, billeting rates, the 
provision of officers. Home Defence measures, the 
needs of the Royal Flying Corps, the pay of the 
missing and prisoners of war, separation allowance 


and pension questions, the use of the Territorial 
Force apart from the pressing and paramount need 
of supplying and supporting the army in the field, 
and the hundred and one domestic questions of staff, 
space and organisation which arose daily within the 

A mistake which was hardly avoidable was made 
at the very beginning of things. A large part of 
the department of the General Staff (3 1 out of 64 
officers), and the holders of other military appoint- 
ments, left their posts at once for service in France, 
and were replaced by officers new to the work. It 
was possibly due to the lack of experience resulting 
from this initial exodus that the military censorship 
of cables and articles was alleged by the Press to be 
very uneven, and caused much trouble and irritation. 
Arrangements concerning secrecy had been planned 
with the Press in pre-war days through the medium 
of the standing committee (vide page 27 c), and on 
August 1 3th a Press Bureau was formed for con- 
trolling naval and military "news"; but the Press, 
with whom this was a voluntary arrangement 
observed on the whole with great loyalty were soon 
reduced to a state of fury, and the difficult task of 
mediation was one of the many delicate duties which 
overwhelmed the Secretariat in holding the balance, 
precariously, between military demands on the one 
hand and the clamour of statesmen, the Press and 
the public. The value of the experience embodied in 
a permanent civil staff accustomed to dealing with 
new Ministers and to civil contacts of all kinds was 
tested highly in these days. To ensure the smooth 
working of the machine was more than merely a 


hfuge task. In the generous words of a shrewd judge,* 
"Brade was one of the pivots of the war." 

A mere recital of official events would fail to con- 
vey a true impression of the life lived at that time in 
the War Office; and, indeed, any picture, however 
full, would be drawn at the best from one angle only, 
and even so would be blurred and confused. The 
atmosphere of those crowded months is difficult to 
recapture now. Some personal impressions alone can 
be given . . . the thronged hall, the hurrying 
escorts of countless enquirers, the breathless dis- 
charge of unwonted duties, the sudden arrival of 
news at last flashed from the front in secret 
cipher, the despatch to Sir John French of the bag 
by means of which urgent and secret letters were 
carried by hand to Headquarters in France, the pain- 
fulness of the casualty lists and the constant enquiries 
from relatives and friends, the comings and goings 
of Cabinet Ministers and emissaries from all parties, 
the brooding eyes of Lord Kitchener, the anxieties 
of Sir George Arthur, the kindly brusqueness of Sir 
George Riddell, the inevitable cigar of "F. E." 
Smith (the first Director of the Press Bureau), the 
procession of princes, over-age peers, politicians, 
journalists, cinematographers, who laid siege to Sir 
Reginald Brade; . . . the astonishing rumours 
known to be false. . . . 

In any faithful record of happenings some of the 
rumours would find a place. The most amazing, per- 
haps, was the famous myth of the trainloads of 
Russians who were carried from Scotland to the 
south coast behind drawn blinds. People were met 

* Note 21, page 347. 


who had spoken to them ! Such reports, and the flood 
of advice from admirers (often enclosing a photo- 
graph), which poured upon the Secretary of State, 
formed a welcome touch of light relief. A single 
week-end produced the following tales: 

Twenty thousand Germans had landed at 

The Guards had been rushed to the coast in 

The British Fleet had been split in two. 

Germans had landed at Lowestoft and New- 

The Forth Bridge had been blown up. 

Germans had landed on the Isle of Wight and 
had sun/ it. 

Actually, the nearest approach to "invasion" was 
the coastal raid of December i6th, when Scar- 
borough, Hartlepool and Whitby were bombarded: 
126 civilians were killed and 567 were injured. 

Some quite incredible incidents occurred through 
the public zeal to assist the department, which was 
not confined to the post or to daytime. At i a.m. 
on September 4th the writer received a Member 
of Parliament who brought a small corpse in a deal 
box. A swift car had borne it through the night 
from Oxfordshire ... a carrier pigeon . . . shot 
on the roof . . . with a left wing that looked very 
suspicious and ought to be shown at once to the 
War Office. The dead bird was spread out on a table 
and its feathers were searched with commendable 
patience. But the "false quill" was not there: the 
poor bird had been innocent. Or, again, on December 


a lady telephoned at 10 p.m., from Leinster 
Square and a sense of duty, to report that a dog ... a 
large dog which belonged to a neighbour of Austrian 
birth . . . was turned into the Square at certain 
hours where it barked, quite obviously, in code. A 
letter followed in confirmation. "One cannot but 
feel that such a bark," it ran, "might be used as a 
sign for any alien." These are but two among hun- 
dreds of cases. 

Nor could a faithful record ignore the reports 
whispered within the Department; for, coming from 
sources associated closely with the leading military 
and political circles, they were usually not far wide 
of the truth. Lord Kitchener, it was said, was slow 
to believe in the use of the Territorial Force, and 
had never heard of the Special Reserve. . . . The 
Cabinet was fearful of Labour troubles and would 
not think of compulsory service. . . . Headquarters 
in France (in the course of September) thought that 
the war would be over by Christmas, and telt that 
Lord Kitchener was starving them by keeping back 
men and munitions in England for "New Armies" 
which would never be wanted. . . . The French 
were opposed to war correspondents, and the Press 
was not being treated wisely. 

But even the rumours were hurried whispers. 
Nobody had time to spare. 

To these first nine months belong two criticisms 
of the War Office to which so large a publicity has 
been given that to ignore them entirely might be taken 
by the reader as endorsing their complete fairness. 


The first has a special reference to the tragic 
failure of the Dardanelles. It is directed against the 
General Staff; for the popular impression is said to 
be that, if adequate "staff" advice had been givgn, 
the campaign would never have been undertaken. 
But the considered opinion the written view of 
the General Staff was opposed to a military attack on 
Gallipoli as being too hazardous an operation. Nor 
could the point be made by critics that the Cabinet 
was not apprised of this departmental military view. 

The second criticism concerns munitions the 
new production of guns and munitions aimed at by 
the military chiefs in the course of the first ten months 
of the war. 

Here a striking picture has been drawn by at 
least one responsible critic which suggests a remark- 
able lack of foresight, denseness, and^even apathy 
on the part of "the military mind" at the War 
Office responsible for the supply of munitions or, 
in other words, the artillery experts and the Secre- 
tary of State himself. Actually the problem of 
supplying munitions weighed heavily on Lord 
Kitchener, who was not notably lacking in vision, 
and the orders placed in the first few months were 
based on a total strength in the field of 1,100,000 
men, and involved the employment in this country 
of over 2,500 firms. Further, there were heart- 
breaking causes of delay which were quite outside 
the control of the soldiers, but which do not appear 
as a part of the picture. Germany started with vast 
reserves, but she did not succeed any better than 
Britain in accelerating her new output in the first 
nine months or so of war. The objective of the 


attack, however, like the criticisms made by Mr. 
Lloyd George of the mentality of the "Whitehall 
Generals'" or the alleged follies of commanders in 
the field, is not a matter of War Office system but of 
the qualifications possessed or lacked by particular 
distinguished officers, and further comment here 
would be out of place. 

As a matter of comparative interest, the gun 
ammunition of all natures expended in the South 
African War, which lasted for 2| years, amounted 
to 273,000 rounds. The expenditure in France in 
the first six months amounted to i ,000,000 rounds, 
and in the next three months to another 1,000,000. 
For the i8-pr. gun alone the amount ordered up 
to April, 19155 was approximately 30,000,000 

On a minor point Mr. Lloyd George is certainly 
more picturesque than accurate. To describe the 
War Office of 1915 as "that tranquil sanctuary of 
the God of War" is truly a poetic licence. 

Meanwhile "the sanctuary of the God of War" 
was so far possessed of tranquillity that quiet- 
mannered Sir Reginald Brade snatched sleep on an 
improvised bed in his office, and a weary-eyed staff 
blinked through the night at the stream of figures 
in secret cipher which carried messages over the 
seas. A fifth storey, "Zeppelin Terrace," rose on 
the top of the crowded building. In the new branch 
for casualty work, the bureau for dealing with offers 
of service, and the Enquiry Office for the general 
public, the staff was hard pressed to keep pace with 


the work. The military and the finance branches were 
all equally overwhelmed. 

The Army Estimates for 1915 provided for 
3,000,000 men, and the total enlistments for t.he 
calendar year were 1,280,362. In March came the 
battle of Neuve Chapelle. In April began a long 
struggle at Ypres when gas was first used by the 
enemy; and in the same month (25th-26th) the 
Allied Expeditionary Force landed at Gallipoli. The 
leading Division of the New Armies left for France 
on May gth. 

It was a time of disillusionment and discontent 
in high quarters. The reports whispered within the 
War Office said that "Lord K.," the soul of loyalty, 
was upset by signs of divided allegiance on the 
part of General Headquarters in France. Losses in 
France and at the Dardanelles . . . bitter attacks 
on Lord Kitchener . . . the sudden resignation of 
Admiral Lord Fisher . . . fierce criticism of Mr. 
Churchill . . . political circles were in a turmoil. 
The dynamic gestures of Sir Max Aitken, now 
better known as Lord Beaverbrook, were frequently 
seen at the War Office. At the end of May a Coalition 
Government replaced Mr. Asquith's Liberal Cabinet. 

It was at this stage that the War Office "threw 
off" the first of three new departments. The Ministry 
of Munitions was constituted (June 5th, 1915), and 
a number of branches were transferred from the 
War Office about 150 officials. Further, a special 
Munitions of War Act (5 and 6 Geo. V, cap. 58) 
did much to ease the task of provision. In September 
came the battle of Loos. On October 5th Allied 
troops first landed at Salonika, and a new campaign 


ddded complications which lasted till late in 1918. 
In November Lord Kitchener visited the Near East 
in order to see the situation for himself and to advise 
finally on future action. The Prime Minister took 
charge of the War Office. December was marked by 
two great changes: the evacuation of Gallipoli, a 
military achievement of the first order, started upon 
the igth; and on the same day Sir John French was 
succeeded by General Sir Douglas Haig. Lord 
French was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the 
forces in the United Kingdom. 

These twelve months (1915) saw the first appear- 
ance of 8-inch and 1 2-inch B.L. howitzers; of five 
types of trench mortar; of steel helmets, the first 
respirators, chemical shell and smoke bombs, Lewis 
machine guns, Verey pistols and anti-aircraft 
artillery. The Royal Flying Corps (Military Wing) 
was organised in wings and brigades; and the 
Directorate of Military Aeronautics was expanded 
to cope with its growing task. The regiment of 
Welsh Guards was created. A Machine Gun Corps 
was authorised. The work in connection with 
Prisoners of War demanded a new directorate. A 
series of new royal warrants made large extensions 
in pension provision. The issue of "Separation 
Allowance" to the families and dependants of 
soldiers became a colossal and complex business. 
The number of families and dependants dealt with 
in the month of August, 1915, was 1,646,300, and 
the money issued in that one month was 4,990,000. 
At the same date the strength of the War Office 
had jumped to 6,522. In the autumn a new recruiting 
scheme was introduced in the name of Lord Derby, 


under which men were attested, classified, and 
transferred at once to the Army Reserve to wait until 
they were "called up." In December General Sir 
William Robertson took up the post of "C.I.G.S.," 
and a "Deputy C.I.G.S." was created as a new 
member of the Army Council. 

The air raids on England had started in January: 
there were 24 during the year, in which 190 civilians 
were killed. 

The strain of the year had been much increased 
by an atmosphere of intrigue and jealousy outside the 
War Office itself. The rumours current within the 
department said that Lord Kitchener was unhappy: 
that his heart was with the fighting men, but not 
with those of Downing Street. Great distress had 
been caused, too, by a very bitter attack on Lord 
Haldane which appeared in the papers controlled 
by Lord Northcliffe. Lord Haldane, ever a friend 
to the Army, had dared to defend Lord Kitchener. 
The Press as a whole had been somewhat appeased 
by a wise but belated concession in May under 
which representative war correspondents were at- 
tached to Headquarters on the western front. In the 
late autumn there was much talk of the possibility 
of compulsory service, on which the soldiers had set 
their heart as the only means of carrying on. Alleged 
political difficulties created impatience in military 
circles, and produced in Ministers (so it was said) 
an equal impatience of all advisers who could not 
promise quick results. This was the era of "Push 
and Go." The public, loyal to Lord Kitchener, con- 
tinued to offer a flow of advice; and some of the 
budget of eager suggestions introduced a most 


welcome touch of humour. The following is a 
specimen : 

"Guildford, 2 8th June, 1915 
My Lord, 

I feel sure if thousands of lions were sent into 
the German trenches it would make the enemy 
fly. Send them at night. Be such a surprise that 
they would not want to fire at them. If they 
were caught and drugged whilst bringing, 
nothing is impossible. Every day I have that 
thought, and especially after the good work that 
Bulls did for Italy. 

Yours very truly, 

D. H " 

In the meantime a striking venture, conducted 
by the Indian Government, and aimed at producing 
important results, was threatening to involve the 
War Office in fresh commitments and complica- 
tions. Against the advice of the General Staff the 
Indian force in Mesopotamia had been authorised 
to advance on Baghdad without waiting for reinforce- 
ments, and early in December a force of about 
12,000 men was cut off and besieged in Kut. 

The tragic year 1916 opened with signs of re- 
newed hope. Under the new "C.I.G.S." the General 
Staff was re-formed and strengthened. The evacuation 
of Gallipoli was completed with almost incredible 
success. The Army Estimates for the new year pro- 
vided for 4,000,000 men. It was rumoured that Mr. 
Lloyd George would support the demand for com- 


pulsory service, which was strongly opposed by soirffe 
Ministers. The Germans were swept from the 
Cameroons. The British Front in France was relatively 
quiet while the enemy prepared the attack on Verdun 
which opened on February 2 ist. In March a Military 
Service Act applied compulsory military service to 
unmarried men and widowers, subject to various 
grounds of exemption. Lieut.-General Sir Nevii 
Macready took up the post of Adjutant-General. 

In April the clouds began to gather. There were 
seven Zeppelin raids in the month. On Easter 
Monday the harassed Department was faced with an 
Irish rebellion in Dublin, which was only suppressed 
by prompt measures involving 500 casualties. On 
the 29th Kut surrendered. Air Defence was becom- 
ing a big question. Already the head of the aircraft 
branch, the Director-General of Military Aero- 
nautics, had been made a member of the Army 
Council; and the formation of an advisory board 
("the Air Board") was announced in May. The 
actual number of air raids in the twelve months was 
38, in which 1 72 civilians were killed. Secret arrange- 
ments were now in train for Lord Kitchener to visit 

On June 5th came a staggering shock. The War 
Office was very still that day. A chilling sense of 
emptiness seemed to envelop the great building, as 
though the romance had gone out of its task and 
left it strangely cold and friendless ; for the message 
had come from the Admiralty that Lord Kitchener 
would never return. For the third time within a few 
years Mr. Asquith acted temporarily as Secretary of 


On July 1st on the western front the battles of 
the Somme started, and lasted until the third week 
of November. In that first month the British casual- 
ties, including those of Dominion troops, were 
187,372 men. In August the War Office took over 
another new sphere of administration that of the 
force in Mesopotamia. 

The staff of the War Office had risen now to 
12,672, and the problem of accommodation alone 
was a heavy task for the Secretariat, One develop- 
ment was a new directorate to deal with the registra- 
tion of graves. The pressure on the Finance branches 
was somewhat relieved late in the year by the creation 
of a second off-shoot, when a staff of about 1,500 was 
transferred to the new Ministry of Pensions. The 
year saw the introduction of tanks the Mark II, 
III and IV types; also the 1 5-inch howitzer, the 
Stokes mortar, and the Hotchkiss machine gun. 
Tanks were used in action for the first time on 
September I5th on the Somme. Another creation 
of 1916 was the Royal Defence Corps, organised 
for home duties in protection and observer 

In the meantime, on July 7th, Mr. Lloyd George 
became Secretary of State, but left the department 
after five months on accepting the office of Prime 
Minister; and as a result of this fresh political crisis 
the War Office received Lord Derby as its new 
Minister for War (December nth, 1916). Major- 
General W. T. Furse now became Master-General 
of the Ordnance. 

With the setting up of a War Cabinet consisting 
of five members only a year of tragedy and change 


closed with the promise of great reforms in tlfe 
higher direction of war policy. 

The events of the year 1917 brought a further 
vast increase of work in spite of further transfer of 

The Royal Flying Corps had started the war 
with less than 100 serviceable machines, and in 
February 400 War Office officials were transferred 
to a new Air Board office charged with the duty of 
supplying aircraft. Nevertheless the staff in August 
numbered 16,624. A second transfer took place in 
October, when 454 officials concerned with the 
work of raising recruits were absorbed in another 
new Ministry (the Ministry of National Service). 
Two members were added to the Army Council. 
The transportation system in France had been re- 
organised by Sir Eric Geddes in the autumn of 1 9 1 6, 
at the instance of Mr. Lloyd George, and in March, 
1 9 1 7, a Director-General of Movement and Railways, 
relieving the "Q.M.G." of these duties, was made a 
civilian member of Council. In May a further mem- 
ber was added in a Surveyor-General of Supply, with 
new directorates for Raw Materials, Costings, Wool 
Textile Production, and Priority of supply-demands. 
Adjustments with Italy and America were added to 
the task of Finance. The expansion of the Tank 
Corps, of Labour formations, of Women's corps, 
and the great work of the "E.F. Canteens" called 
for new branches at Headquarters. The number of 
Voluntary Aid Detachments reached 3,804. The 
strength of a new Volunteer Force reached 290,000. 


Heavy tanks, tank guns, 6-inch guns and gun- 
carriers were among the latest introductions. 

The Estimates for this year (1917) provided for 
5,000,000 men. A second Military Service Act 
had extended compulsion to married men between 
1 8 and 41, and had made certain other helpful 
provisions in retaining the service of time-expired 
soldiers and facilitating transfers within the Army 
from corps to corps as need dictated, but the 
Council, responsible for the provision of drafts to 
an army drained by enormous losses, regarded these 
measures as insufficient. The talk at this time 
was all of "man-power," and rumour said that the 
new Prime Minister, with a widened view of the 
nation's needs, had somewhat abated his sympathy 
with the urgent demands of his military advisers. 
The actual enlistments during the year were 

On March nth Baghdad was captured, and in 
the same month, on the western front, the Germans 
retired to the Hindenburg line. Revolution broke 
out in Russia and the Czar was forced to abdicate. 
In April began the allied offensive: the battle of 
Arras, Vimy Ridge, the Messines offensive and the 
battles of Ypres meant terrible losses throughout 
the summer. Passchendaele and the Flanders offen- 
sive came to an end on November roth. The 
operations at Cambrai followed, famous for the tank 
attack, and closed in the second week of December. 
From September 2oth to the end of the year the 
British losses on the western front, including those 
of Dominion contingents, amounted to over a 
quarter of a million. 


In other theatres the defence of Egypt hid 
turned to offensive action in Palestine, which now 
occupied seven Divisions, commanded since June 
by General Allenby. Early in November five other 
Divisions had hurried from France to the assistance 
of Italy, who had suffered disaster at Caparetto. The 
man-power problem was growing steadily, while 
report whispered that the War Cabinet was dis- 
satisfied with the military policy and craved for some 
dramatic stroke at the expense of risk in the western 
theatre. The first contingent of American troops had 
arrived in France on June 25th, but no large 
numbers were yet available, and shipping troubles 
foreshadowed delay. 

Meanwhile the proposal for greater concert of 
the war effort of the Entente Powers had been given 
new life by the collapse of Russia and the dissatis- 
faction of Ministers; and the conference of Rapallo, 
held in November, agreed to establish a Supreme 
War Council. These were difficult days for the Army 
Council for, while they agreed with the plan in 
principle, they could not approve of the original 
proposal to constitute a Technical Military Adviser 
independent of the War Department. 

There were 33 air raids during the year, in which 
471 civilians were killed; and 6 bombardments of 
coastal towns, in which 17 were killed or injured. 

The opening of the last year of the war was a 
time of great unease at the War Office. It was 
rumoured widely in military circles that the views 
held by the Army Council on the general policy of 


operations were opposed to those of the Prime 
Minister. It seemed obvious to the General Staff 
that, with many Divisions released from Russia, the 
Germans would make a supreme effort to inflict a 
defeat on the western front before any large American 
forces would reach France and be ready to fight. 
The existing Military Service Acts could not pro- 
vide the men demanded. In February General Sir 
William Robertson was replaced in the post of 
"C.I.G.S." by General Sir Henry Wilson. On 
March 3rd, at Brest-Litovsk, Russia signed peace 
with the Central Powers. 

These anxieties, and the Council's policy of con- 
centration on the western front, were fully justified 
by the event. On March 2ist the great German 
offensive started, and the British losses up to the 
end of April included, roughly, 70,000 prisoners 
and 750 guns. The casualties reported up to the 
end of May were 343,812 men. Troops were hurried 
from Palestine, and also from Mesopotamia. A fresh 
Military Service Act was passed on the basis of great 
emergency. Similarly the demand for unity of com- 
mand was brought to fruition by force of circum- 
stances, and General Foch, on April I4th, was 
appointed supreme Commander-in-Chief. 

From the middle of July onwards the Allies began 
to strike heavy blows, and August 8th may be said 
to be the date when Germany saw that the tide had 
turned. In the great attacks by the Allied forces be- 
tween that date and the Armistice the casualties in 
the British Forces, including the Dominion troops, 
were over 360,000. At Salonika the Allies attacked 
in September, and Bulgaria collapsed at once. In 


Palestine in the same month General Allenby 
launched a final offensive, which broke and routed 
the Turkish forces. The armistice with Turkey was 
signed at Mudros on October 3Oth ; Austria-Hungary 
signed on November 3rd: the Armistice on the 
western front followed on November nth. On 
December I2th, 1918, the British crossed the Rhine 
at Cologne. 

Two domestic events of these months must be 
mentioned. On April ist the Flying services had 
passed to the charge of the Air Council, with a 
further transfer of War Office staff, 700 in all, to 
the new Ministry; and on April 2oth Lord Derby 
retired and was succeeded as Secretary of State by 
Lord Milner. 

These were the events, in bald outline, in which 
the War Office played a central part for four very 
exacting years. 

In computing the task discharged by the Depart- 
ment mere figures can mean very little, but some 
idea of size may be given. The original staff of 
about 2,000 had grown at the time of the Armistice 
to approximately 22,000. It occupied, in whole 
or part, fifty-nine buildings outside Whitehall, 
of which the temporary erections in Embankment 
Gardens and on the site of the lake in St. James's 
Park were the ones best known to the general public. 
Before the war the number of papers dealt with by 
the Central Registry was, in round figures, 10,000 
a week : in November 1918 the figure had amounted 
to 253,000 a week, not including the letters dealt 


with direct by several of the large branches which 
were housed outside the main building. The staff 
which dealt with Separation Allowances increased 
from 2 to 405 ; the staff for transport of troops and 
stores, from 19 to 690; the Contracts staff from 55 
to 2,8 18; the ladies of the Type section from 55 to 
957. New classes of work absorbed large numbers, 
such as Graves Registration, 393; Casualties, 1,267; 
and the Censorship work of the General Staff, 5,678. 
These figures are mere illustrations of size, and to 
single out particular cases is not to imply that any 
one branch bore a larger share than any other of 
the burden of the war-effort. An adequate picture of 
that effort could not be drawn in a few pages, and 
the following selected particulars touch only some 
parts of the organisation. 

The total numbers of the forces at the time of the 
Armistice, including Indian, Dominion and Colonial 
troops and large native Labour formations, were 
nearly 5! millions ; and of these the numbers in this 
country were 1,600,000. In the British Isles the 
men enlisted from the beginning of the war to that 
date numbered 4,907,902. 

From the first the question of accommodation was 
one of the major problems to be met, since the bar- 
racks, cleared of married families, held 262,000 men 
only. At the start large numbers were placed under 
canvas and others in schools and institutions ; but the 
bulk had to be billeted, as many as 800,000 men 
being quartered in this way at one stage. The claims 
in connection with billeting and hiring became in 
themselves a large service; as also did the issue of 
"family allowance" to men living in their own homes. 


Then came the building of hutted camps to hold 
850,000 men, a task made less easy by shortage of 
labour and congestion of traffic on roads and rail- 
ways; and the problem was increased during 1916 
by the influx of large Dominion contingents, and 
later by the expansion of the Flying Corps, the 
formation of the women's corps, the accommodation 
of prisoners of war, and the transit of American 
troops up to 40,000 at one time. To this was added 
the hospital problem and the housing of the nursing 
staff. The total numbers of sick and wounded sent 
to this country from the forces abroad up to Novem- 
ber 1 5th, 1918, were 2,384,412; and the number of 
equipped beds at that date was 364,000. The nurses 
of the military Nursing Services then numbered, at 
home, some 13,000. 

The storage of every class of munitions, equip- 
ments, clothing, supplies and vehicles was another 
large side of the quartering business; and the 
questions arising out of allowances for lodging, 
fuel and light and so on, were inevitably a heavy 
burden. The problems of storing and handling 
ammunition cannot be conveyed by quoting figures, 
but its size may be gauged by typical facts. From 
April to June, 1918, the ammunition issued to the 
troops in France weighed 650,000 tons (value, 
40,500,000): and on one single day, September 
2nd, the British forces on the western front fired 
943,857 shells. The strength of the Army Ordnance 
Corps, which dealt with storage, issue and repair of 
practically all kinds of war material, rose, in round 
figures, from 2,500 on August ist, 1914, to 40,500 
of all ranks on November ist, 1918. Didcot was one 


df the depots constructed. The Bramley depot for 
storing explosives was ij miles in length. 

The receipt and handling of clothing and boots 
necessitated building in Battersea Park and the hiring 
of Olympia, the White City, and other premises in a 
dozen towns. In the first rush at the outbreak of war 
blue serge uniform had to be purchased, no other 
large supplies being available, to the extent of 
500,000 suits; and 400,000 civilian greatcoats were 
also used in the early stages. In due course, however, 
69 Divisions were completely equipped for service 
in the field, in addition to the furnishing of special 
requirements in fur and leather winter garments and 
the clothing of coloured Labour troops. In the rapid 
expansion of the first year vast purchasing arrange- 
ments had to be made in Canada and the United 
States for much equipment in addition to clothing, 
particularly tools and harness and saddlery; and the 
variety of stores for such different theatres as France, 
Salonika, Mesopotamia and East Africa can easily 
be realised. As a single and simple example of size, 
the peace-time provision of spades and shovels was 
2,500 a year; the provision in the war was over 
10,000,000. The number of vehicles, from guns to 
barrows, shipped to France from this country for 
the use of the forces up to April, 1919, was 447,640. 

On the repair side of the work an outstanding 
development was the organisation of mobile work- 
shops for the repair of artillery equipment in the field. 

The forces being fed in August 1914 numbered 
1 64,000 : on November 1 1 th, 1918, they were 
5,363,352. As regards meat, at an early date con- 
tracts were made by the Board of Trade for regular 


shipments from the Argentine; the whole of thfe 
output of Australia and New Zealand was made 
available for Army use in addition to all frozen meat 
from the Plate ; and supplies were obtained from tjie 
United States, Brazil, Patagonia, Canada and South 
Africa. For economy in feeding the troops at home 
sausage factories, controlled by the War Office, were 
erected in London, Liverpool and Aldershot. Bread 
was supplied by Army bakeries, even at Gallipoli. In 
the case of cheese the whole of the supply from 
New Zealand, from Australia and from Canada was 
taken. To cope with the bulk shipment of oats 
floating pneumatic suction plants were erected early 
in 1917 at each of the base ports in France. The 
whole of the hay crop of this country in the years 
1916, '17 and ' 1 8 was taken over by the War Office, 
the balance in excess of the Army's requirements 
(just over one million tons a year) being released 
through the controlling machinery of a central 
council and county committees. 

In petrol the monthly requirements at first were 
250,000 gallons: these rose, at the time of the 
Armistice, to io| million gallons. For Egypt and 
Salonika it was shipped from the east and "canned" 
at Suez : in France tank-storage at Calais and Rouen, 
enabling large tank vessels to be used, was supple- 
mented in 1917 by the partial employment of bulk 
distribution, thus overcoming a shortage of tins. One 
hundred and eighty-six rail-tank waggons and 200 
road-tank lorries were despatched from this country 
for that purpose. The growth in the use of mechan- 
ical transport was one of the striking developments of 
the war. The motor vehicles at first available, largely 


as a result of subsidy arrangements, numbered 842 : 
the total at the date of the Armistice was 121,692. 
The racecourse at Kempton Park was taken over as 
a Deception depot, and a "mobilisation and embark- 
ation area," where the units were formed and 
despatched to the ports, was established on Salisbury 
Plain at Bulford. The organisation for spare parts, 
with its headquarters at the Holborn Restaurant, 
was the largest store of its kind in the world. The 
tendency to substitute motors for horses was grow- 
ing marked towards the end of the war, and only 
the signing of the Armistice put a stop to experi- 
ments conducted in France in the transportation 
by motor vehicle of field-gun and machine-gun 

As regards remounts, on mobilisation the Army 
possessed some 25,000, and this number was raised 
in 12 days to a total of 165,000 by a scheme of im- 
pressment evolved in peace-time. Large arrange- 
ments for purchase were made abroad, and the 
animals landed in this country up to December 2nd, 
1918, included 600,000 horses and mules from 
Canada and the United States, 6,000 from South 
America, and 3,000 mules from Spain. The supply 
for India and Mesopotamia was arranged for by the 
Indian Government. Nearly half a million were 
bought at home. The extensive depots so required 
added to the "quartering" problem. The horses and 
mules in all theatres on November 3Oth, 1918, 
numbered 735,000; there were also camels, bullocks 
and donkeys to a total of over 56,000. Four Army 
Schools of Farriery were established, one in France 
and three at home, under the Army Veterinary Corps, 


The growth of the Army Service Corps was, in rounfl 
figures, from 6,400 to 325,000 of all ranks. 

The staff which dealt with the separation allow- 
ances paid to wives, children and other dependants 
was responsible for the disbursement, up to March 
1920, of 414,000,000, The staff which dealt with 
"soldiers' effects" the estates of deceased officers 
and men rose from 10 officials in August 1914 to 
777 at the date of the Armistice. At the latter date 
it was distributing balances at the rate of about 
2,000,000 in the year, this sum belonging to 
different estates to the number of over 200,000. At 
this period the Contracts department was buying 
food and manufactured articles to the value of 
6,000,000 a week. The Army Pay Corps, in 
France alone, was dealing with 36 national curren- 
cies, all subject to varying rates of exchange; for the 
very large Labour formations included, apart from 
prisoners of war, Indian, South African, Egyptian, 
Chinese, Fijian, Italian and Russian contingents. 

The large size of the Casualty branch requires, 
unhappily, little explanation. In registering, publish- 
ing and investigating the reports it dealt with 
casualties in all theatres, including those of Dominion 
troops ; and in the case of British Army "other ranks" 
it provided a central office for enquiries. Written 
enquiries were close upon a million; and the card 
index held nearly 4,000,000 cards. The clearing 
up of discrepancies, the circulation of lists of the 
missing, and correspondence with enemy countries 
through diplomatic or Red Cross channels on the 
subject of individual prisoners of war, were three 
particular duties involved. The notification of officer 


casualties was done by the Military Secretary's 
branches. The total casualties for the British Empire 
up to the date of the Armistice amounted, in 
approximate figures, to 1,000,000 who were killed 
or had died, or were missing or prisoners, and 
2,000,000 wounded. 

Another new branch created for the war, the 
Prisoners of War Directorate, was small in numbers 
(23 officers), but its large task was the custody and 
control of all enemy prisoners wherever captured or 
interned, and care for the interests of the British 
prisoners interned in various enemy countries. The 
organisation of camps in this country, which at one 
time numbered over 500, and their discipline and 
administration, constituted work both novel and 
difficult; and the general policy in regard to prisoners, 
their pay, their employment and other conditions, 
was not eased by excited public opinion which drew 
resentful comparisons between the treatment of 
British prisoners in Germany and the treatment of 
enemy prisoners here. The alleged indulgence to 
enemy prisoners as a result of "influence in high 
quarters" had no foundation at all in fact. The 
greatest number of prisoners interned by the British 
at any one time in the United Kingdom, France, 
Egypt, India and other countries was just over 

As another instance of new activities, the work 
carried out by the General Staff under the general 
heading of "Censorship" was a development of 
special interest. 

It grew gradually out of a small section of the 
Military Operations directorate, as part of the 


work of "Special Intelligence," with three branches 
for postal censorship, cable censorship, and the 
military policy of Press censorship. The control of 
accredited war correspondents, the censorship />f 
cinematograph films and of all official photo- 
graphers and artists, and the issue of "Operations" 
communiques and general liaison work with the 
Press Bureau formed one side of the Press work. 
The side which is not so generally known was the 
work in connection with Press propaganda and the 
study of the Foreign Press. The "Daily Review of 
the Foreign Press" grew to be a production of great 
value with a monthly circulation of 24,000; while a 
staff of well-known writers and artists was employed 
on the propaganda work. Summaries of operations, 
articles and battle-stories were circulated all over the 
world. For example, Sir Douglas Haig's despatch of 
December 3Oth, 1916, was translated into nine 
languages, and between that date and the end of the 
war some 7,000 articles were distributed to home, 
Dominion and American papers and in half a dozen 
neutral countries. Special literature was also pro- 
duced to be distributed over the enemy lines, at 
first by aeroplane and later by balloons, and its great 
effect on the enemy is testified by German writers. 
Thirty-two thousand balloons were used, and the 
leaflets, letters and cartoons so distributed numbered 
in all over 25 millions. 

The work of postal and cable censorship was, 
naturally, a much larger business. 

* * # * 

The most that this chapter can hope to convey is 
an impression of a few of the many aspects of the 


task which was centred in the War Department, 
supported throughout by the loyal co-operation of 
other departments and public bodies, the Territorial 
County Associations, and the great work of the 
British Red Cross and other voluntary societies. 

At the time the opinion held of the Department 
was probably not very flattering. Military activities 
were so widespread that almost everything that hap- 
pened anywhere was the work, in the public eye, of 
the War Office. If the local hospital was notoriously 
wasteful, if a brother or cousin was indifferently 
nursed, if a small contractor gave signs of wealth, if 
a blatant "brass hat" paraded his car, or a known 
shirker had a "cushy job," these things were ascribed 
to a staff in Whitehall who were probably innocently 
unaware that such places or people existed at all. 
The only question of judgment which arises here 
concerns organisation and system . . . whether the 
Department as an organisation stood up to the strain 
imposed upon it. To adapt itself to so vast an expan- 
sion in the course of working at full speed was 
certainly a severe test. Its supporters can at least 
reply to critics that its system has not been chal- 
lenged since, nor has any drastic reform been 
mooted. The proper relation of the military advisers 
to the higher direction of war policy is, of course, a 
distinct question. 

At the close of hostilities a tired staff turned at 
once to a new problem the gigantic task of 

Chapter XIV 

THE pre-war reform of the organisation received a 
very remarkable tribute in the way in which the 
Department, once freed from its war burdens, re- 
verted to its original shape. Of the functions trans- 
ferred to new Ministries recruiting duties were the 
first to return, followed by those of the Ministry of 
Munitions. The new branches created during the 
war were gradually absorbed, if not wholly abolished. 
The extra members of the Army Council dis- 
appeared one by one; and in March 1924 that body 
resumed its pre-war shape, except that its Secretary 
was now also a Member of Council. 

At first, in 1919, some branches actually grew 
in size. The volume of Registry correspondence 
reached its peak in that year ; the staff for distributing 
soldiers* "effects" rose, owing to the issue of the 
war gratuity, to 1,852 ; and the staff of the Demobili- 
sation directorate numbered 1,228. The numbers of 
men demobilised up to December 3ist, 1919, were 
166,996 officers and 3,678,204 other ranks. The 
salvage of surplus stores and animals, which had 
been started early in 1918, was another extremely 
large task which saved enormous sums to the public. 
As a single instance, the animals sold up to Septem- 
ber ist, 1919, fetched just under 17,000,000. 
Again, the work of issuing medals had not then 


reached its maximum. However, by the end of that 
year the staff had fallen from over 22,000 to 9,559. 

For the War Office Peace did not prove to be 

The British forces in North Russia, despatched 
in the summer of 1918 to Archangel and Mur- 
mansk, were withdrawn in the autumn of 1919, 
and also most of the troops in the Caucasus; but 
there still remained two armies abroad, the Army of 
Occupation on the Rhine and the Army of the Middle 
East and Egypt. From May to November, 1919, 
there were hostilities in Afghanistan ; while at home 
serious civil disturbances were intermittent through- 
out the year, terminating in a general Railway strike. 
In 1920 a rebellion in Mesopotamia necessitated the 
despatch of a division, and the troubles in Ireland 
became so serious that martial law was proclaimed in 
four counties. From March to June, 1921, a state 
of emergency was declared at home in consequence 
of a great Coal strike, and a special Defence Force 
was formed for the occasion; while a great deal of 
work was thrown on the War Office by the outbreak 
of Turko-Greek operations. In 1923 came the Treaty 
of Lausanne and the withdrawal from Turkey of the 
Army of Occupation. In 1924 operations in Wazir- 
istan, which had been intermittent for five years, 
were brought at last to a successful conclusion; but 
mutinous outbreaks in the Sudan, and the assassin- 
ation of the Governor-General, required the despatch 
of forces from Egypt. 

In 1925 plans were maturing for the evacuation 
of the Cologne zone. Early in 1926 the attention 
of the War Office was required at home by another 


Coal Stoppage, the declaration of a state of emer- 
gency, and a General Strike in the month of May. 
Troops, who were employed in large numbers, 
could not be returned to their permanent stations 
until the Coal dispute ended late in November. 
In 1927 the situation in China demanded the 
despatch of considerable reinforcements, and the 
arrival in China of the Shanghai Defence Force gave 
rise to large problems of quartering and the like at 
Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tientsin and elsewhere. 
Reductions proceeded during 1928, but at the end 
of that year there were still 6 battalions additional 
to the normal garrison of China. There were also 
operations in Iraq. 

Plans for total withdrawal from Occupied Ger- 
many, and particularly for the settlement of the 
claims arising, which threatened to be a most 
troublesome business, formed the central feature 
of 1929. Actually the evacuation was completed 
on December i2th of that year. In the autumn 
serious riots in Palestine called for troops to be sent 
from Egypt and Malta. In China there were still 5 
British battalions, the assistance of troops being 
required constantly for dealing with pirates and 
bandit forces. Again in 1931 anti-Japanese riots 
created much trouble at Hong Kong; and troops 
were required by riots in Cyprus. Trooping arrange- 
ments for 1932 were upset once more by trouble in 
China, where hostilities between Japan and China 
were resumed at Shanghai at the beginning of the 
year. A battalion was also required in Iraq to deal 
with a rising of Assyrian Levies, 

These incidents are quoted to remind the reader 


th?t the post-war reductions and reconstruction were 
not carried out in complete peace. Officially the 
Great War ended on August 3ist, 1921. 

Meanwhile the Department was faced with the 
task of complying with strong and continuous pres- 
sure for economy in Army expenditure. The process 
of retrenchment started at once. The expenditure 
charged to Army funds fell from 4 12,000,000 in 
1919 to 86,000,000 in 1921. Then came in turn 
the Geddes Committee on National Expenditure, 
whose interim report affecting Army votes was 
submitted in December 1921 [Cmd. 1581]; Lord 
Weir's Committee of 1923 on the staff of the three 
Defence Departments; Lord Colwyn's Committee 
of 1 925 on the expenditure of the three Departments ; 
and the May Committee of 1931 [Cmd. 3920] on 
the means of effecting all possible reductions in the 
national expenditure on Supply Services. To these 
were added departmental committees, the normal 
pressure exercised through the Treasury, the exam- 
ination conducted annually by the Public Accounts 
Committee of the House, and three special enquiries 
made by the Select Committee on Estimates. Re- 
statements and re-calculations on every aspect of 
Army expenditure followed in seemingly endless 
succession. In 1925 Army expenditure had fallen 
to 44,783,000: the Estimate for 1934 was 

Both in the Army and at the War Office these 
years saw a number of striking developments, some 
of which must be noted briefly. 

At the War Office two important changes have 
been mentioned already in earlier chapters. The 


first was the change of 1 924 by which the Permanent 
Under-Secretary of State was appointed to be the 
Accounting Officer, in accordance with a general 
Government decision that the permanent civilian 
head of a Department should normally hold that 
responsible position. The second was the re- 
allocation of duties between the "Q.M.G." and 
the "M.G.O." which was made in October, 1927, 
resulting from the growth of mechanisation. Briefly, 
engineer services and barrack construction were 
transferred to the charge of the "Q.M.G.," while the 
directorate of Ordnance Services was put in the 
charge of the "M.G.O." ; and thus the duties of 
research, design, inspection, provision, storage and 
repair of all mechanically propelled vehicles (except 
the storage, issue and repair of the vehicles used by 
the Royal Army Service Corps) were concentrated 
in one division of the Office. To unify the work of 
design, to simplify the repair problem, and to 
economise in men and workshops were the chief 
objects of this transfer. 

A still more recent break with the past (1932-33) 
was the abolition of the Clothing Factory, which 
had operated at Pimlico since the year 1859. The 
surrender of all the premises there, and the whole- 
sale transfer to Trade contracts of the making up of 
Army clothing, are expected to result in considerable 

For the Army itself the most notable changes have 
resulted from the modern development of new types 
of war material, the familiar cases being mechanised 
vehicles, of which there are more than 200 types, 
signal stores, including "wireless," and anti-aircraft 


stores generally. The creation of the Royal Corps of 
Signals, separated from the Royal Engineers, and the 
appearance of Anti-Aircraft units, are both post-war 
developments. Other new introductions of these 
years were the Army Educational Corps and the 
great expansion of Army education, the building of 
Catterick Camp in Yorkshire to compensate for the 
loss of the Curragh, and a large land-purchase scheme 
at Imber, accompanied by a comprehensive review of 
all the properties held by the War Office, from which 
extensive sales resulted. An introduction of a special 
kind, which belongs to the earlier post-war years, 
was the institution of "Cost Accounts." 

The institution of cost accounts is associated with 
the name of Sir Charles Harris. It began with a very 
remarkable experiment, for which a special corps 
was created and in which the Department can claim 
with some justice to have played a bold pioneering 
role. The familiar form of Estimate and Account 
deals only with cash required for the year, arranged 
in compartments according to "subject," such as 
pay, food, clothing, warlike stores, road transport, 
or the staffs of establishments. A different and more 
informative form might show the cost of the Army 
by objects the cost, for example, of cavalry regi- 
ments, of hospitals, of military railways, or of each 
of the various types of depot ; and might cover not 
merely the cash outgoings but the true cost in each 
case, including such elements as the cost in buildings, 
in fuel and light and stationery, or in stores with- 
drawn from stock and consumed. Such a scheme 
would produce comparative costs between one unit and 
another which, placed in the hands of administrative 


officers, should prove to be valuable weapons of 
control and both aids and incentives to the pursuit 
of economy. It might also be expected, when fully 
developed, to be helpful to the House of Commons. 

The Select Committee on National Expenditure 
had endorsed such a scheme in its seventh report 
(H.C. 98 of 1918), recommending that the accounts 
of all Departments should comprise their total ex- 
penditure, including the rental value of buildings, 
pensions paid and pension liability, and the services 
rendered by other Departments such as the Post 
Office and the Office of Works ; and that the estimates 
and accounts should be so grouped as to show "the 
objects rather^than the subjects of expenditure, and 
with carefully chosen units of cost." In this bold 
departure from time-honoured methods the War 
Office proceeded to lead the way, after practical tests 
carried out in Commands, and the Estimate and 
Account for 1919 were presented in a new form, 
under six main heads of Estimate and Expenditure 
in place of the usual cash Votes. 

Being super-imposed on the existing system of 
cash accounts and store accounts, the scheme was, 
of course, expensive in cash and involved very 
great additional work. The cost of the Corps of 
Military Accountants involved a considerable ad- 
dition to Estimates at a time when the cry was all 
for reduction. In fine, the time was not very pro- 
pitious for the working out of the full implications 
inherent in so ambitious a project, and the Council 
decided in 1925 to discontinue the main scheme and 
to limit continuous cost accounting to selected 
"operative" establishments. The Army Estimates 


f<5r 1926 were accordingly presented in cash Votes, 
and from that year onwards the cost accounts, which 
are published annually in the Army Account, will 
b found to comprise such establishments only as 
Electricity Supply Stations (working down to the 
cost of a B.T. unit), Hospitals (the cost of each 
occupied bed), Bakeries, Laundries, M.T. Com- 
panies, Vessels, Railways, Pumping Stations, Steam 
Heating Plants, Cold Stores, and certain types of 
workshops. The Corps of Accountants, as such, 
disappeared; but accountant officers of the Royal 
Army Pay Corps are available to the administrative 
heads of the Army for the investigation of working 
costs for which cost accounting is not continuous. 

A special feature of the post-war years, of which 
the general public knows too little, has been the 
continuous effort made to improve and strengthen 
the co-ordination between the three Defence Depart- 

There are two sides to this important question, 
the economical and the strategical. On the former 
the Contracts Co-ordinating Committee (which in- 
cludes the Treasury, the Post Office and the Office 
of Works) continuously reviews all practicable 
methods of saving money by centralised buying, by 
evolving common specifications, and by adopting the 
principle that the largest user shall buy as the agent 
of the other Departments. Again, the Royal Ordnance 
Factories work, of course, for all three Services; 
and research and other technical establishments are 
"common," too, in this sense. Nor is there any over- 
lapping either in the case of hospitals or prisons. At 
no station is there more than one hospital, unless 


numbers demand more space, and reciprocal arrangfe- 
ments are made by the Services for admission of each 
other's cases. Or again, in the case of the Chaplains' 
departments, economy is pursued by the pooling rof 

Remembering the widely divergent requirements 
of the Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force, with 
their different problems and their different weapons, 
it is doubtful whether, on the business side, there is 
more to be gained by co-ordination than is achieved 
by the steps already taken. These steps include 
standing Joint Committees (set up, in most cases, 
as a result of the Mond-Weir Committee on amal- 
gamation of Common Services) to watch the progress 
of co-ordination in medical, educational, chaplaincy, 
and building services ; and in the purchase of food- 
stuffs, clothing and textiles, mechanical transport, 
general stores, medical and veterinary stores, and 
electric power and water supply. Further, this ques- 
tion is watched constantly by the Select Committee 
on Estimates. 

The strategical aspect is quite different : since here 
the whole Empire enters the picture. The central 
machinery has been mentioned already. Originating 
as a permanent body from the recommendations of 
the Esher Committee, the Committee of Imperial 
Defence, extended and developed by sub-committees, 
constitutes an effective and flexible instrument for 
co-operation between all Departments and the several 
Governments of the Empire as a whole in the joint 
problems of Imperial Defence. 

In the narrower sphere of "military" strategy 


dye co-ordination of the three Services demands 
a combined General Staff, was anticipated in the 
year 1923 by the creation of a standing Sub- 
Committee consisting of the Chiefs of Staff. Of 
this the Prime Minister is chairman, as he is of 
the C.I.D. as a whole. In addition to the duties of 
the Chiefs of Staffs as advisers to their own Board 
or Council on sea, land or air policy, they have here 
an individual and collective responsibility for advis- 
ing on defence policy as a whole. The three officers 
constitute, as it were, a Super-Chief of a War Staff. 
They meet periodically, and also on any special 
occasion ; and the effectiveness of this organisation is 
not merely a matter of theory : it has stood the test of 
actual practice. The crisis in China of 1927 provides 
one example, and there have been others; but in no 
case has this Sub-Committee failed to produce a 
concerted plan or to present their joint conclusions 
to the Cabinet within twenty-four hours of being 
called together. Each Chief of Staff holds a special 
warrant which requires him to submit to the Prime 
Minister any matter relating to Imperial Defence 
on which further enquiry or investigation may appear 
to him to be necessary. 

r T Again, a significant step forward was taken in 
January, 1927, with the opening of the Imperial 
Defence College, to be supervised by the Sub- 
Committee. This exists for the study by selected 
officers of the broadest aspects of Imperial strategy, 
the courses lasting for one year and being shared by 
students from the Indian Army, the Dominion forces 
and the Civil Services. The needs of the three fighting 
Services are here considered as a single whole. 


The problem of attaining effective co-ordinatian 
between three Departments with differing traditions 
and differing outlooks and modes of thought can 
be made to sound extremely formidable: and ^ it 
probably was so at one stage. The solution of such a 
problem as this is perhaps not a matter of new 
machinery so much as of time and of education. 
Interesting statements on this subject will be found 
in the Debates of the House of Commons for March 
2ist, 1934. 

* * * * 

For the rest, the story of the post-war years is a 
tale of growing complexity. It is not just a matter of 
tanks and dragons, radio-telephony, air co-operation, 
faster transport, improved weapons, the inspection 
of metals by X-rays, or chemical defence require- 
ments. It is true that these things add to the work 
on more than the scientific side in new methods of 
training the troops, a wider scope for staff work, the 
organisation of new formations, and in complication 
of rates of pay as tradesman-ranks become more 
predominant: but all this forms only one part of the 
picture. Administration becomes more complex as 
life in general is more "administered," and this in 
turn tends to centralisation. Much new legislation 
reacts on the War Office, even Town Planning Acts 
and Income Tax law. The machinery of the Whitley 
Councils is a big addition to post-war business. The 
League of Nations has brought its burdens. Advance 
in civil standards of housing and increased atten- 
tion to sanitation call for improvements in barrack 
amenities. The Army requires better education. 


Vocational training has come to stay. And super- 
imposed on all other demands is the need pressed 
home by the lesson of the war for a new standard 
of preparation for the possible requirements of 
national emergency. The reality of all this increased 
complexity can be seen in the volume of in-coming 
correspondence and the volume of War Office con- 
tract work as compared with the figures for pre-war 
days. To the patient reader of preceding chapters 
the fact can hardly require to be stressed. 

Of domestic details there is little to tell. 

The War Office building is not commonplace. 
The principal front facing Whitehall gives little 
impression of its great size, being but half the length 
of its longest side which stretches back to Whitehall 
Court. The irregularity of its actual shape, which 
architects call a "trapezium," is masked in the 
design by the use of cupolas, each supported by a 
square sub-tower which takes up the line of the 
street which it faces. The groups of sculpture at the 
angles of the building are the work of Mr. Alfred 
Drury, and represent Peace and War, Truth and 
Justice, Fame and Victory. Great pains were taken 
by the architects that the lines of the structure 
should accord with those of its neighbour to the 
south, the Banqueting House of the Palace of 
Whitehall, that masterpiece of Inigo Jones which 
on January 3<Dth, 1649, was the scene of the behead- 
ing of King Charles I, and which now houses the 
historic treasures of the Royal United Service 


The War Office is built of Portland stone. Tfye 
foundations were laid in 1899, the entire site 
being excavated and the building erected in a 
tank of concrete thirty feet below the level of the 
road. The work was completed in November 1966. 
The principal feature is the main hall. From a vast 
mantel on the left-hand side the Duke of Wellington 
looks down : on the right-hand side. Lord Herbert of 
Lea. At the head of the first flight of the staircase 
stands a pedestal-bust of Lord Kitchener. The steps 
are of Piastracchia marble, the balusters of alabaster. 
The principal rooms are on the second floor which is 
reached direct by the main staircase, the Secretary 
of State's overlooking Whitehall. 

In this modern "sanctuary of the God of War" 
there is very little of the antique. About a dozen 
eighteenth-century mantelpieces were carefully re- 
moved from the Pall Mall building and refixed in 
some of the chief rooms. There is also some very 
fine old silver, inherited from the Board of Ordnance, 
some of it dating from William III. Two pairs of 
candlesticks and a snuffer-tray bear the marks of 
1696. An anonymous gift of recent years is a 
taper-box of 1794 originally presented by George 
III to William Windham, Secretary-at-War. One 
relic of particular interest hangs in the Army 
Council room. This is the regimental colour of the 
Bombay European Regiment, which was raised in 
1662 and sent to India for the defence of Bombay, 
the latter possession having come to the King by 
the treaty for his marriage with Catherine of 
Portugal. Handed over to the Honourable East 
India Company (1668) and later transferred to the 


Qjieen's Army (1861), the unit finally, in 1881, 
became the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. 

At the entrance to the quadrangle court stand 
four very fine torch-head lamps, marked with the 
arms of the Board of Ordnance, which originally 
adorned the old Pall Mall building. In the court 
itself are four guns: two German pieces from the 
Great War, and two which were part of a battery of 
four raised for the purpose of the South African War 
and manned by the City Imperial Volunteers. Oppo- 
site the entrance in Whitehall stands a mounted 
statue of the Duke of Cambridge. The old War 
Office in Pall Mall possessed a sentry of its own, 
provided by the King's Guard. The new is content 
with the statuesque figures of the troopers of the 
Household Cavalry who protect the Horse Guards 
over the way. 

The subject of the recruitment of the staff can 
be dealt with in a few words. Appointments to the 
military staff of the War Office are normally made 
by selection of officers who have graduated at 
the Staff College. The main permanent civilian 
staff is recruited through the examinations which 
are common to the whole of the home Civil Service. 
An excellent result of the late war is that fifty per 
cent of this permanent staff has had experience 
of military service. The ex-soldier clerks in the 
military departments are not included in this figure. 
The War Office List, an official publication which is 
on sale, gives exhaustive arid detailed information of 
the staff and duties of all branches. 

The War Office possesses a Luncheon Club, a 
Sports Club of many flourishing sections, an 


amateur Dramatic Society, and a Magazine of recent 
growth which gives scope for the military and civil 
pen to blossom in "Unofficial Minutes." 

Viewed from the bridge in St. James's Park on a 
misty morning of Spring the distant domes of the 
War Office roof are touched by the magic of sun 
and haze with the grace of the turrets of tall white 
castles, soaring up most royally from the streets of 
some city of high adventure. On closer approach the 
illusion is shattered. No atmosphere of romantic days 
lingers about this modern Department. The War 
Office leaves romance and tradition to the safe keep- 
ing of the British Army. It broke with the past when 
it left Pall Mall. 

Once upon a time, not so long ago, the War 
Office was the butt of Press and Stage as the home 
of all ineptitude. Possibly, to many a regimental 
officer it is still at the best the fans et origo of an 
incredible mass of unnecessary rules. It remains, 
maybe, to the public at large no more than a vaguely 
conceived embodiment of military highhandedness, 
which in times of stress reaps vicarious importance 
from the stoic achievements of the British soldier and 
in times of peace has no obvious reason for con- 
tinuing its existence at all. However untrue such 
conceptions may be, the War Office can be philo- 
sophic, so long as the public appreciates the need for 
preserving its Army unimpaired and equal to any 
duty assigned to it. If an efficient Navy and an 
efficient Air Force are necessities of the Empire, 
so also is an efficient Army. If the protection of this 


cqpntry is obviously essential, so also is the protection 
of India or Egypt. The constant task of "policing 
the Empire" is a vital requirement of peace and 
security; but this primary role, quite distinct from 
that of the armies of continental Powers, is carried 
out so quietly that it stands in some danger of being 

The policy governing the amount of money 
which the nation affords for Army services is not 
determined by the War Office; though it has an 
important function of advice to those who decide 
these major questions. Policy, in the words of Lord 
Haldane, "does not rest with the War Office, which 
is only an instrument in the hands of the Government 
of the nation for carrying out policy." The Army of 
1934 is a smaller but more scientific force, and 
definitely of a more expensive quality, than it was 
in the year 1914; while the money available for 
Army purposes is definitely a smaller sum. The latter 
statement may sound unconvincing, for the Army 
Estimates for 1914 (excluding the provision for the 
Flying Corps) was just under 28,000,000; while 
the Army Estimates for 1934 were 39,600,000; 
but allowing for the change in purchasing value the 
current provision for the Army is smaller. Accord- 
ingly the ideal of the modern War Office is to be 
businesslike and much alive; for its task, apart from 
anything else, is to extract from the means provided 
by the nation the last sixpennyworth of value for the 
Army which it is proud to administer. Possibly it 
can also fulfil a function even more important than 
this in providing lessons from its own history for 
those who determine the policy of Defence. 





1794 Rt. Hon. Henry Dundas (afterwards Baron 

Duneira and Viscount Melville). 


1 80 1 Robert, Lord Hobart (afterwards fourth Earl of 

Buckinghamshire) . 

1804 John, Earl (afterwards first Marquess) Camden. 

1805 Robert, Viscount Castlereagh (afterwards first 

Marquess of Londonderry). 

1806 Rt. Hon. William Windham. 

1807 Robert, Viscount Castlereagh (afterwards first 

Marquess of Londonderry). 
1809 Robert, Earl of Liverpool. 

1812 Henry, Earl Bathurst. 

1827 April Frederick, Viscount Goderich (afterwards first 

Earl of Ripon). 

1827 Aug. Rt. Hon. William Huskisson. 

1828 Lieutenant- General the Rt. Hon. Sir George 


1830 Frederick, Viscount Goderich (afterwards first 

Earl of Ripon). 

1833 Rt. Hon. Edward Geoffrey Stanley (afterwards 

successively Lord Stanley, Lord Stanley of 
Bickerstaffe, and Earl of Derby). 

1834 June Rt. Hon. Thomas Spring- Rice (afterwards first 

Lord Monteagle). 

1834 Dec. Rt. Hon. George, Earl of Aberdeen. 

1835 Rt. Hon. Charles Grant (afterwards first Lord 

1839 Feb. Constantine, Marquess of Normanby. 


1839 Aug. Rt. Hon. Lord John Russell (afterwards first 
Earl Russell and Viscount Amberley). 

1841 Rt. Hon. Lord Stanley (afterwards Lord Stanley 

of Bickerstaffe and Earl of Derby). 

1845 Rt - Hon - w - E - Gladstone. 

1846 Henry, Earl Grey. 

1852 March Rt. Hon. Sir John Somerset Pakington, Bt. 
1852 Dec. Henry, Duke of Newcastle. 


1854 Henry, Duke of Newcastle. 

1855 Fox, Lord Panmure (afterwards eleventh Earl of 


1858 Major-General the Rt. Hon. Jonathan Peel. 

1859 Rt. Hon. Sidney Herbert (afterwards Lord 

Herbert of Lea). 

1861 Rt. Hon. Sir George Cornewall Lewis, Bt. 

1863 George, Earl de Grey and Ripon (afterwards 

first Marquess of Ripon). 
1866 Feb. Rt. Hon. Spencer, Marquess of Hartington 

(afterwards eighth Duke of Devonshire). 

1866 July Lieutenant-General the Rt. Hon. Jonathan Peel. 

1867 Rt. Hon. Sir John Somerset Pakington, Bt. (after- 

wards first Lord Hampton). 

1868 Rt. Hon. Edward Cardwell (afterwards Viscount 

Cardwell of Ellerbeck). 

1874 Rt. Hon. Gathorne Hardy (afterwards Viscount 

and Earl of Cranbrook). 

1878 Colonel the Rt. Hon. Frederick Arthur Stanley 

(afterwards Lord Stanley of Preston and Earl 
of Derby). 

1880 Rt. Hon. Hugh Culling Eardley Childers. 

1882 Rt. Hon. Spencer, Marquess of Hartington (after- 

wards eighth Duke of Devonshire). 

1885 Rt. Hon. William Henry Smith. 

1886 Feb. Rt. Hon. Henry Campbell-Bannerman. 

1886 Aug. Rt. Hon. William Henry Smith. 

1887 Rt. Hon. Edward Stanhope. 

1892 Rt. Hon. Henry Campbell-Bannerman. 


i8c}5 Most Hon. Henry, Marquess of Lansdowne. 

1900 Rt. Hon. St. John Brodrick (afterwards Earl of 


1903 Rt. Hon. H. O. Arnold-Forster. 

190^5 Rt. Hon. R. B. Haldane (afterwards Viscount 

Haldane of Cloan). 

1912 Colonel the Rt. Hon. J. E. B. Seely (afterwards 

Lord Mottistone). 

1914 March Rt. Hon. H. H. Asquith (afterwards Earl of Ox- 
ford and Asquith). 

1914 Aug. Field Marshal the Rt. Hon. Horatio Herbert, 
Earl Kitchener of Khartoum. 

1916 July Rt. Hon. David Lloyd George. 

1916 Dec. Rt. Hon. Edward George Villiers, Earl of Derby. 

1918 Rt. Hon. Alfred, Viscount Milner. 

1919 Rt. Hon. Winston L. Spencer Churchill. 

1921 Rt. Hon. Sir Laming Worthington-Evans, Bt. 

1922 Rt. Hon. Edward George Villiers, Earl of Derby. 
1924 Jan. Rt. Hon. Stephen Walsh. 

1924 Nov. Rt. Hon. Sir Laming Worthington-Evans, Bt. 

1929 Rt. Hon. Thomas Shaw. 

1931 Aug. Hon. Colonel the Rt. Hon. Robert Offley Ash- 
burton, Marquess of Crewe. 

1931 Nov. Hon. Captain the Rt. Hon. Douglas McGarel, 
Viscount Hailsham. 




1 The Life Guards and Royal Horse Guards. 

2 Royal Horse Artillery. 

3 Regiments of Cavalry of the Line. 

4 Royal Regiment of Artillery (other than Royal Horse 

Artillery and Hong Kong- Singapore Royal Artillery). 

5 Corps of Royal Engineers. 

6 Royal Corps of Signals. 

7 Regiments of Foot Guards. 

8 Regiments of Infantry of the Line. 

9 Royal Tank Corps. 

10 Hong Kong- Singapore Royal Artillery. 

1 1 Royal Malta Artillery. 

12 Royal Army Chaplains' Department. 

13 Royal Army Service Corps. 

14 Royal Army Medical Corps. 

15 Royal Army Ordnance Corps. 

1 6 Royal Army Pay Corps. 

17 Royal Army Veterinary Corps. 

1 8 Army Educational Corps. 

19 The Army Dental Corps. 

20 Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. 

21 Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Militia) Sup- 

plementary Reserve. 

22 Supplementary Reserve (other than 21). 

23 Militia*. 

24 Honourable Artillery Company (Territorial Army). 

25 Territorial Army (other than 24). 

26 Territorial Army Nursing Service. 

27 Militia units in Bermuda, Channel Islands and Malta. 

28 Officers Training Corps. 

* By the Territorial Army and Militia Act, 1921, the title "the 
Militia" was substituted for "the Special Reserve." With the exception 
of certain officers who were commissioned before August 5th, 1914, 
and are still retained, this force is not at present maintained in Great 
Britain or Northern Ireland. 



i (page 7). The most recent Order in Council is 
dated iyth December, 1931. The actual text is as follows: 

At the Court at Buckingham Palace, the iyth day of 
December, 1931. 

Present : 

WHEREAS His Majesty has been pleased to approve a change 
in the Constitution of the Army Council. 

Now, THEREFORE, His Majesty, by and with the advice of 
His Privy Council, is pleased to order, and it is hereby ordered, 
as follows: 

i. The Secretary of State is to be responsible to His 
Majesty and Parliament for all the business of the Army 
Council. All business other than business which the Secretary 
of State specially reserves to himself is to be transacted in the 
following principal sub-divisions : 

(a) The Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State shall be 
responsible to the Secretary of State for the administra- 
tion of business affecting the Territorial Army Associa- 
tions and War Department Lands, and for so much of 
the other business of the Army Council as may be 
assigned to him, from time to time, by the Secretary 
of State. 

(b) The First Military Member of the Army Council (the 
Chief of the Imperial General Staff), the Second 
Military Member of the Army Council (the Adjutant- 
General to the Forces), the Third Military Member of 
the Army Council (the Quarter-Master-General to the 
Forces), and the Fourth Military Member of the Army 
Council (the Master-General of the Ordnance) shall be 
responsible to the Secretary of State for the administra- 
tion of so much of the business relating to the organisa- 
tion, disposition, personnel, armament, and maintenance 


of the Army, as may be assigned to them, or eac/i of 
them, from time to time, by the Secretary of State. 

(c) The Finance Member of the Army Council (Financial 
Secretary of the War Office) shall be responsible to the 
Secretary of State for the finance of the Army and for 
so much of the other business of the Army Council as 
may be assigned to him, from time to time, by the 
Secretary of State. 

(d) The Permanent Under-Secretary of State shall be a 
Member, and Secretary, of the Army Council and 
responsible to the Secretary of State for the preparation 
of all official communications of the Council and for the 
interior economy of the War Office: he shall also be 
responsible, on his appointment as Accounting Officer 
of Army Votes, Funds and Accounts, for the control 
of Expenditure and for advising the Secretary of State 
and the Administrative Officers at the War Office and 
in Commands on all questions of Army expenditure. 

He shall further be charged with such other duties as 
may be assigned to him, from time to time, by the 
Secretary of State. 

2. This Order in Council shall be substituted for the Order 
in Council dated ist day of October, 1931. 


Note 2, (page 16). Addressed by King Charles II to the 
Duke of Monmouth on yth September, 1676. Contained in 
the Calendar of State Papers (Domestic) for that year. 

Note 3 (page 18). The Secretary-at-War at this time was 
William Blathwayt. His complicated position in relation to 
William III, who insisted on taking him abroad on campaigns, 
is dealt with in great detail in a biography entitled William 
Blathwayt, by G. A. Jacobsen, published by the Yale Univer- 
sity Press, 1932. 

Note 4 (page 29). 

(i) The preamble to the Army and Air Force Annual Act 
refers to the numbers required for the Army in the 
following words: "Whereas it is adjudged necessary 
by His Majesty and this present Parliament that a body 


of land forces should be continued . . . and that the 
whole number of such forces should consist of (the 
number mentioned in the 'Vote A' Resolution see 2 

(*) An estimate of the numbers required for the Regular 
Army is presented each year to the Committee of 
Supply of the House of Commons and is voted by that 
Committee before the end of March. In what is known 
as the "Vote A" Resolution the House resolves "that a 
number of land forces, not exceeding (a figure) be 
maintained 1 * during the coming financial year. But this 
is a Resolution of the House of Commons alone. 

(3) The money required for the Army is voted annually by 
the Committee of Supply, partly in March and partly 
in July. The part of the Supply that is voted in March is 
included in the ist Consolidated Fund Act which is duly 
passed before March 3ist. The remaining Supply is not 
voted until July, and the total Supply is included in 
the Appropriation Act which is passed by both Houses 
after that date. The total grant thus made for the Army is 
shown out separately in the Schedule to this Act, which 
also includes the numbers contained in the "Vote A" 
Resolution of March. But this is not passed before the 
beginning of the financial year. 

Note 5 (page 37). The history of the office of Secretary 
of State will be found in greater detail in the Home Office 
volume of this series. 

Note 6 (page 39). Author of The Law and Custom of the 

Note 7 (page 42). The Military Forces of the Crown by 
Charles M. Clode, and The History of the British Army by 
Hon. Sir John Fortescue, are two standard works on Army 
history. The former, dealing with the constitutional history 
of the forces, was published in 1869, and should be supple- 
mented by the books of modern authorities on this subject. 

Note 8 (page 56). This passage is quoted from Martin's 
Life of the Prince Consort, Vol. IV, p. 20. The other authorities 
used in this chapter, apart from War Office documents, are 


The Letters of Queen Victoria, The Life of Lord Wolselfy, by 
Sir Frederick Maurice and Sir George Arthur, and Lord Card- 
well at the War Office by Sir Robert Biddulph. Parliament and 
the Army, 1642-1904, by Lt.-Col. J. S. Omond (1933), is an 
excellent exposition of the political attitude ; and many dejails 
concerning the personalities of the period will be found in 
The War Office Past and Present by Capt. Owen Wheeler 

Note 9 (page 81). The text of His Majesty's Letters Patent 
constituting the first Army Council is as follows : 

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and of 
the British Dominions beyond the Seas, King, Defender 
of the Faith, Emperor of India 

To Our right trusty and well-beloved Councillor Hugh 
Oakeley Arnold-Forster, Our trusty and well-beloved Sir 
Neville Gerald Lyttelton, commonly called the Honourable 
Sir Neville Gerald Lyttelton, Knight Commander of Our 
Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Lieutenant-General 
in Our Army, Charles Whittingham Horsley Douglas, Esquire, 
Herbert Charles Onslow Plumer, Esquire, Companion of 
Our Most Honourable Order of the Bath, Sir James Wolfe 
Murray, Knight Commander of Our Most Honourable Order 
of the Bath, Major-Generals in Our Army, Our right trusty 
and right well-beloved Cousin Richard Walter John, Earl of 
Donoughmore, Our trusty and well-beloved William Bromley 
Davenport, Esquire, Companion of Our Distinguished 
Service Order, Greeting: 

Know ye that We, trusting in your wisdom and fidelity of 
Our special grace, do by these presents constitute and appoint 
you to be Our Army Council for the administration of matters 
pertaining to Our military forces and the defence of Our 
Dominions, with such power and authority for the purpose 
as has hitherto been exercised under Our prerogative by Our 
Secretary of State for War, Our Commander-in-Chief or 
other Our principal officers who have under Our Secretary 
of State for War been charged with the administration of the 
Departments of the Army. 


4nd We do command all Our officers of Our military forces 
and all others in any department of Our Military Service, 
that they may be attendant on you and observe and execute 
all such orders as you may give in the exercise of your power 
and, authority. 

And know ye that We do grant unto you full power and 
authority from time to time to appoint such officers for con- 
ducting the business of the civil departments of Our Military 
Service entrusted to you as shall seem necessary to you, and 
to revoke the appointment of any such officers as you shall 
see fit, and appoint others in their place, and We enjoin all such 
officers and all others whom it may concern to be obedient 
unto you in all things as becometh. 

And We grant unto you full power in relation to any power 
and authority for the time being vested in you under these 
Our Letters Patent to make such contracts and do all such 
other things as you may find necessary in your discretion for 
the better carrying on of Our Military Service, and generally 
to execute and to do every power and thing which formerly 
appertained to Our Secretary of State for War or to Our 
Commander-in-Chief or other principal officers as aforesaid. 

And know ye that your powers may be exercised and your 
duties performed by any three of your number, that Our 
right trusty and well-beloved Councillor Hugh Oakeley 
Arnold-Forster shall be your President, and that any docu- 
ment may be signed on your behalf by any two of you or by 
any one of you and such person as you may appoint to be 
your Secretary. 

In witness whereof We have caused these Our Letters to be 
made Patent. 

Witness Ourself at Westminster, the sixth day of February, 

in the fourth year of Our Reign. 
By Warrant under the King's Sign Manual. 


Note 10 (page 91). The Foundations of Reform by the 
Military Correspondent of The Times, 1908, contains a critique 
of the Haldane reforms by a first-class writer. 


Note ii (page 93). The number of officers and rnen 
landed in France between 9th and 23rd August, 1914, was 
111,804. As regards Waterloo the authorities differ as to the 
size of the Army commanded by Wellington ; but several agree 
in giving it as 67,700 men with 156 to 174 guns. Forte^cue 
puts the figure as low as 63,000, and some foreign writers 
have put it as high as 93,601. The numbers of the British 
troops in that Army were between 24,000 and 26,000. 

Note 12 (page 119). The reference is to the nth Report 
of the Commissioners of Military Enquiry, presented to the 
House of Commons on February 26th, 1810. This was an 
exhaustive enquiry into the existing machinery for administer- 
ing the forces. Nineteen reports were issued between March 
1806 and March 1812. 

Note 13 (page 129). The subject is dealt with clearly in 
the Manual of Military Law issued by command of the Army 
Council and published by H.M. Stationery Office. 

Note 14 (page 136). For the following division of Honor- 
ary Distinctions the writer is indebted to Major T. J. Edwards. 

(1) Battle Honours. These are either the name of an action, 
e.g. "Salamanca" or "Mons," or the name of a campaign, 
e.g. "Peninsula," "South Africa, 1899-1902." The only 
battle honour for a place in Great Britain is "Fishguard." A 
small French force landed at Fishguard on February 23rd, 
1797, and was captured by the Pembrokeshire Militia. The 
honour was borne by the Castle Martin Yeomanry, which was 
converted after the Great War into the iO2nd (Pembroke and 
Cardigan) Brigade, Royal Artillery. 

(2) Badges, of which there is a great variety, e.g., "The 
Lion of Nassau," "The Sphinx, superscribed 'Egypt'," "An 
Elephant superscribed 'Assaye'," "The Royal Tiger super- 
scribed 'India'," "The Dragon superscribed 'China'," "The 
Castle and Key superscribed 'Gibraltar'," "The White 
(Roussillon) Plume," etc. 

(3) Commemorative Mottoes borne upon Colours. "Primus 
in Indis" (the old 39th Foot, now the Dorsetshire Regi- 
ment) and "Celer et Audax" (The King's Royal Rifle Corps, 
for service under Wolfe in North America). 


,[4) Regimental Titles, e.g., the ist Guards were granted 
the title "ist or Grenadier Regiment of Foot Guards'* in 
commemoration of their having defeated the Grenadiers of the 
French Imperial Guards at Waterloo. 

{5) Clothing Badge; a unique distinction. A Sphinx badge 
at the back of the head-dress was granted to the old 28th Foot 
(The Gloucestershire Regt.) to commemorate the fact that 
they fought back to back at the battle of Alexandria, March 
2ist, 1801. 

(6) Silver Wreath borne on the Colour Pike, granted by 
Queen Victoria to the 24th Foot (The South Wales Borderers), 
to commemorate the rescue of the Queen's Colour at Isand- 
hlwana and the defence of Rorke's Drift in the Zulu War of 

(7) Commemorative Regiments. The Irish Guards were 
formed to commemorate the bravery shown by the Irish 
regiments in the South African War, 1899-1902. 

(8) Dress Distinctions, e.g., The Royal Scots Greys (and 
Dragoons) wear a bearskin cap to commemorate their bravery 
at Ramillies. 

(9) The Truncheon awarded to the Sirmoor battalion of 
the Bengal Native Army for service at the relief of Delhi, 
1857. The battalion is now the 2nd King Edward's Own 
Gurkha Rifles. The Battle Axe awarded to a company of the 
Royal Artillery at Martinique in 1809. This company is now 
the 25th Medium Battery, R.A. 

Note 15 (page 140). Notes on Matters affecting the Health , 
Efficiency and Hospital Administration of the British Army, 
founded chiefly on the experience of the late War by Florence 
Nightingale; written between February and August, 1857, 
and published privately in 1858. The sentence from the private 
notes is quoted from The Life of Florence Nightingale by Sir 
Edward Cook (1914). 

Note 16 (page 156). R.A.S.C. History of Transport and 
Supply in the British Army. The first volume by Fortescue 
ends in 1902. The second by Col. R. H. Beadon carries the 
story to 1920. 


Note 17 (page 181). The reader who is interested in tfie 
development of weapons and of military dress will find much 
interesting information in the History of the Army Ordnance 
Services by Major- General A. Forbes (1929). For the history 
of the R.A. see Duncan's Royal Regiment of Artillery (187^2), 
and the History of the Royal Artillery, Vol.1, by Major-Gen. 
Sir Charles Caldwell and Major-General Sir John Headlam. 

Note 18 (page 234). The office of the Paymaster- General 
must be distinguished from the military Royal Army Pay 
Corps. The functions of the Paymaster- General, who, like 
the old Paymaster-General of the Forces, is a political officer, 
are set out in the Treasury volume of this series. 

Note 19 (page 247). The complete list of the Votes of the 
Army Estimates are: Vote A, Numbers; Vote i, Pay, etc., of 
the Army; Vote 2, Territorial Army and Reserve Forces; 
Vote 3, Medical Services; Vote 4, Educational Establishments; 
Vote 5, Quartering and Movements; Vote 6, Supplies, Road 
Transport and Remounts; Vote 7, Clothing; Vote 8, General 
Stores; Vote 9, Warlike Stores; Vote 10, Works, Buildings and 
Lands; Vote n, Miscellaneous Effective Services; Vote 12, 
War Office; Vote 13, Half-Pay, Retired Pay and other Non- 
Effective Charges for Officers; Vote 14, Pensions, &c., for 
Warrant Officers, N.C.O.s, Men and others; Vote 15, Civil 
Superannuation, Compensation and Gratuities. 

Note 20 (page 250). Army Agents. By the time of King 
James II the Colonel's Clerk, who acted on behalf of the 
Colonel of each regiment in connection with pay, clothing, 
etc. (see p. 255), had come to be termed the Regimental Agent. 
He was employed by the Colonel, and a deduction of 2d, in 
the on the whole pay of the regiment was made for his 
remuneration. The post was often sold to the highest bidder, 
and the prevalence of corruption among the agents called for 
parliamentary enquiry as early as 1695. The cost of agency 
was made a charge on public funds by Burke J s Act of 1783. 
The captains of companies paid the men and various other 
regimental charges, but the agents alone accounted to the 
Secretary-at-War for the aggregate disbursements on account 
of the regiments. This was changed in 1798 by the establish- 
ment of regimental paymasters, and from that date onward 


the agency system was considered by several Commissions 
and Committees. In 1827 there were 13 agents in all. In 1850, 
when the charge to the public for agency services was 28,508, 
a Select Committee on Army and Ordnance Expenditure 
found that in the Cavalry and Infantry the agent (i), in his 
public capacity, received and distributed for the Colonel the 
funds allowed for the subsistence and other services of the 
regiment; carried out remittances made by soldiers, distri- 
buted "effects," regulated the supply of clothing, arranged 
for the payment of tradesmen, and conducted the business of 
sale and purchase of commissions, etc.; while (2), in his 
private capacity, he acted without charge as banker for the 
individual officer, attended to his purchase of promotion, 
bought and forwarded any article which he might require 
when on service and so on. The public allowance for these 
combined duties amounted at this date to 234 155. Qd. for a 
regiment of Infantry of 750 rank and file. In 1878 the agency 
system, now much narrowed in its public duties, was extended 
to the Staff and the Departments (e.g. Medical, Commissariat, 
Ordnance, etc.); and in 1881 it was decided that in future 
the agent through whom the regimental officers drew their 
pay should be appointed by the Secretary of State. In 1890 
the three firms of Cox & Co., Holt, Laurie & Co. and McGrigor 
& Co. made an agreement to undertake the duties of agency 
free of charge to the public for twenty years from 1892: and 
this was renewed in 1909 for twenty years ending 3 ist Decem- 
ber, 1931. The change to the present position was made in 
1922. Para. 141 of the King's Regulations, 1928, lays down 
that the Army Council exercise no control over, and accept no 
responsibility for, the banking business conducted by firms 
appointed to act as Army Agents. 

Note 21 (page 291). Lord Riddell in his War Diary, 
1914-1918. During those years Lord, then Sir George, Riddell 
was in close touch with the War Office as Vice-Chairman of 
the Newspaper Proprietors Association and a member of the 
Admiralty, War Office and Press Committee. 


Academy, Royal Military no, 

127, 204 

Account, Army Appropria- 
tion 238, 248, 251 
Accounting Officer 236, 246, 

255, 320 

Accounts Branches 250 
Accounts, Cost 244, 251, 321 
Actuarial Branch 278 
Adjutant- General to the 
Forces 8, 70, 72, 80, 97, 
uSetseq., 167, 197,212,215 
Admiralty 72 (vide Service 


Agents, Army 74, 250, 346 
Air Ministry 306 (vide Ser- 
vice Depts.) 
Air raids (vide Raids) 
Airey Committee (1880) 66 
Albemarle, Duke of 16, 18, 30 
Alexandra, Queen 142 
Allenby, F.-M. Lord 304, 306 
America 34, 158, 179; in the 
Great War 287, 302, 304, 
308 et seq. 
Ammunition 180, 192, 203, 

Anti-Aircraft Defence 109, 

x84, 189, 297, 300, 320 
Anti-Gas Defence 109, 188 
Appeals of Officers 132, 267 
Armstrong Gun 181 
Army Act 25, 131, 149, 166, 


Army Council: duties of 7-10, 

79, 261; Order in Council 

339; Letters Patent 342 
Army Council Instructions 


Army List 272 
Army Orders 270 
Army Service Corps 122, 159, 

312; Inspector of 174 
Army, Size of: pre-War 92; 

to-day 5, 331 
Arnold -Forster, Rt. Hon. 

H. O. 82, 98 

Arthur, Sir George 291, 342 
Articles of War 18, 130 
Artillery, Directorate 180, 

Artillery, Royal 85, 176, 178, 

204, 346 
Artillery Committee, Royal 

i8 7 

Artillery School 109 
Asquith, Rt. Hon. H. H. 

(Lord Oxford and Asquith) 

285, 296, 300 
Assistant Under-Secretary of 

State 262, 274, 283 
Assize of Arms 12 
Audit (Military) 51, 249, 254 
Audit (Parliamentary) 235 

Baker, Mr. Harold 217 
Bakeries, Army 161, 163, 310, 


Balfour, Lord 72, 82 
Bands 137, 199 
Barrackmaster-General 171 , 

Barracks 34, 140, 146-151, 

171, 326 

Battle Honours 136, 344 
Beaverbrook, Lord 296 
Bill of Rights 25, 28 
Billeting 23, 146, 160, 307 
Birkenhead, Lord 291 
Blathwayt, William 340 
Blyke, Theophilus 281 
Board of General Officers 36, 

50, 200, 268 
Board of Trade 154, 227, 


Books, Supply of 269 
Boys, Army Technical School 

Boys, Educational Schools 

JI 3> Ir 5 
Brade, Sir Reginald 77, 288, 

291, 295 
Breech-loading: Guns 1 8 1 ; 

Small Arms 183 
British Legion 135 
Brodrick, Rt. Hon. St. John 

(Lord Midleton) 71, 82, 


Brownrigg, Col. R. 211 
Buckingham House 75 
Building Services (vide Works) 
Buildings, The War Office: 

in Pall Mall 74, 328; in 

Whitehall 4, 93, 327; in the 

Great War 306 
Builer, General Sir Redvers 

1 60 
Burke's Act 39, 126, 346 

Cambridge, H.R.H. the Duke 
of 54-58, 62, 66-70, /J3, 

Campbell - Bannerman, Rt. 

Hon. Sir H. 90, 98 
Canteens 161, 302 
Cardwell, Lord 57-65, 87, 96, 

160, 161,342 
Cardwell System 62 
Casualties, Great War 274, 

308, 312 

Catering, Inspector of 161 
Censorship: Cable and Postal 

314; Press 290, 314 
Ceremonial 135 
Chaplain - General to the 

Forces 114, 277 
Chaplains 277, 324 
Charitable Grants 265 
Charles I, King 15, 22-24, 

86, 130, 146, 327 
Charles II, King 16, 25, 30, 

i3 i35 H 6 > 2 33 
Chelsea Hospital 213, 252 

Chemical Defence Research 

Chief of the Imperial General 
3taff8, 102 etseq.,212, 216 

Chiefs of Staffs Sub-Com- 
mittee 100, 325 

Childers, Rt. Hon. H. C. E. 
65, 219 

Churchill, Rt. Hon. Win- 
ston S. 296 

Civil Employment of Ex- 
soldiers 133 

Civil Staff of War Office 275, 
329 (vide also Staff) 

Civilian Employees 167, 190, 

i94> 275 


(JIarke, Sir G. Sydenham 
(^Lord Sydenham) 78 

Clarke, General Sir Mans- 
field 243 

Clarke, William 15 

Clftiton Dawkins Committee 

Clode, Charles M. 42, 147, 

34 1 
Clothing 36, 50, 199 

Clothing Factory 201, 320 
Clubs (War Office) 329 
Coast Artillery School 109 
Coldstream Guards 18 
College, Royal Military no, 

112, 127 
Colwin Committee (1925) 


Commander-in- Chief 16-18, 

4 5-73>79> TI 9 
Commissariat 36, 50, 157 
Commissaries of Musters 36, 

Commissions: Grant of, 28, 

213; Purchase System 60 
Commissions of Array 22 
Committee of Imperial De- 
fence 81, 99 , 227, 273, 

Compulsory Service 90, 287, 

293 et seq. 

Connaught, Field-Marshal 
H.R.H. the Duke of 108 

Contracts, Army 163, 168, 
201, 312 

Cookery, School of 164 

Co-ordination: in War Office 
173, 258; with other De- 
partments 68, 81, 99, 105, 
190, 228, 323 

Correspondence, Volume of 

264, 306 

Cost Accounts 244, 251, 321 
County Associations 9, 215, 


Courts-martial 28, 131 
Cowans, Gen. Sir John 288 
Creedy, Sir Herbert 282, 288 
Crimean War: effects of 96, 
161, 215; guns 179; hos- 
pitals 139; stores 159, 198; 
clothing 202 
Cromwell's Army 118, 144, 

157, 277 
Cubitt, Sir Bertram 78 

Dardanelles Campaign 289, 
294, 296 

Death Penalty 131 

Decentralisation to Com- 
mands 6, 72, 80, 172, 253 

Defence Force (1921) 317 

Defoe, Daniel 34 

Demobilisation 134, 316 

Dental Service 141 

Deputy Under-Secretary of 
State 249, 275, 283 

Derby, Lord 297, 301, 306 

Design Department 188 

Detention Barracks 132 

Discipline 129 

Distinctions, Honorary 135, 

344 . 
Dominions, The 100, 113, 

136, 203, 212, 227, 253, 

325 ; in the Great War 287, 

289, 308 et seq. 
Douglas, General Sir Charles 

108, 288 
Dress (vide Uniform) 



Dufferin Commission (1870) 

112, 114 
Duke of York's School 113 

Education, Army 58, no, 


"Effects" 312, 316 
Electric Lighting, School of 

Electricity Supply Stations 

173, 323 
Elgin Commission (1902) 

7 1 
Ellison, Lieut. -Gen. Sir G. F. 


Employment for ex- Soldiers 

Enfield Small Arms Factory 

47 > 6 7> 203 

Engineer Board, Royal 187 

Engineer Stores 176 

Engineering, School of Mili- 
tary 109, 171 

Engineers, Royal 169, 176, 

Equitation, School of 109 

Esher Committee (1904) 48, 
72, 78, 97, 120, 176, 202, 

214, 222, 242, 256, 282, 

Establishments, Peace 121 
Establishments, War 104 
Estimates, Army 238, 246, 

257, 33i 
Ewart, Lieut.-Gen. Sir J. 

Spencer 284 

Exchequer and Audit De- 
partment 236 

Exchequer, The 233 

Expeditionary Force, The 

pre-War 84, 93, 122, 286, 

Experimental Establishments 

Factories (vide Ordnance) 
Farriery, School of 169 
Fighting Arms, Schools for 


Finance, Army 80, 231 
Financial Advice 80, 174, 208, 

240, 251, 254 
Financial Secretary 8, 9, 58, 

Fisher, Admiral Lord 78, 296 
Fleet, War Department 152, 

Flogging, Abolition of 131 

Foch, Marshal 305 [245 

Food, The Soldiers' 65, 157, 

Foot Guards 18, 85, 199 

Forms, Army 270 

Fortescue, Hon. Sir John 42, 
156, 341, 344 

Fortifications, Inspector- Gen- 
eral of 70, 171, 1 80 

Fox, Rt. Hon. Charles James 

75> IJ 9 
Franco-German War 56, 96, 

French, F.-M. Lord (Earl of 

Ypres) 108, 284, 297 
Furse, Lieut.-Gen. Sir Wm. 


Gas in War, First use of 296 
Geddes, Sir Eric 302, 319 
General Staff 69, 79, 83, 95, 
144, 186; in the Great War 
290, 294, 299, 305, 313 



George III, King 205, 328 
Gladstone, Rt. Hon. W. E. 

57, 62, 64, 236 
Gleig, Prebendary 278 
Gough, General Sir Hubert 

" Guards and Garrisons" 18, 

24, 130, 146, 157 
Guns 46, 64, 178 et seq., 203 ; 

at the War Office 329 
Gwynn, Nell 75 

Haig, F.-M. Lord 297, 314 
Haldane, Lord 78, 82-92, 98, 


Haliburton, Lord 282 
Hamilton, General Sir Ian 

1 08 

Hardinge, Lord 45, 179 
Harris, Sir Charles 77, 244, 

282, 288, 321 

Hartington, Lord 68, 78, 97 
Hawes, Sir Benjamin 282 
Hayter Committee (1882) 219 
Henry VIII, King 22, 37, 182 
Herbert, Sidney (Lord Her- 

bert of Lea) 46, 49, 55, 1 14, 

139, 161, 179, 278, 328 
Hill, General Lord 114 
Honours and Rewards 135, 

Horse Guards, The 5, 30, 31, 

Horses (vide Remounts) 

Hospitals 138, 323 
Household Troops 13, 18, 

135, 199, 200, 329 
Howick Commission (1837) 

Howitzers 178, 181, 297, 301 

Imperial Communications 

Committee 105 
Imperial Defence College 325 
Imperial Defence, Commit- 
tee of 81,99, 227, 273, 324 
Impressment 22, 125 
India 7, 99, 101, 113, 153, 
328, 331 ; in the Great War 
289, 311 

Industrial Councils 276 
Inigo Jones 327 
Inspection Departments 190 
Inspector - General of the 

Forces 80, 108 
Inspectors (Training) 108 
Institutes, Regimental 163 
Insurance (Acts) 127 
Intelligence, Military 58, 64, 

72, 77, 96, 102, 117 
Inventions 187, 192 
Ireland 284, 300, 317 

James II, King 25, 146, 178 
Judge Advocate General 132, 

Kelly-Kenny, General Sir T. 

Kitchener, F.-M. Lord 67, 

286 et seq., 328 
King, The, Submissions to 

27, 132, 136, 266 
Kneller Hall 137 
Knox, Sir Ralph 65, 282 

Labour Corps 312 
Labour, Ministry of 135 
Lands, War Department 171, 


Lansdowne, Lord 71, 88, 120 
Laundries 323 
Law, Martial 23, 129 
Law, Military 25, 129 
League of Nations 117, 249, 


Legal Advisers 267 

Lewis, Rt. Hon. Sir George 

Cornewall 54 
Levy, The Feudal 21 
Levy, The General 20, 85 
Libraries, Garrison 114 
Library, The War Office 279 
Lloyd George, Rt. Hon. D. 

285, 295, 299-302 
Local Auditors 72, 249, 253 
Locke, Matthew 16 
Lucas Committee (1911) 219 

Machine Guns 109, 180, 184 
Machine Gun Corps 297 
Macready, General Sir Nevil 


Manoeuvres 108, 267 
Maps 96, 1 02, 274 
Marlborough, Duke of 33, 

Martial Law 23 
Marzials, Sir Frank 78 
Master-General of the Ord- 
nance 9, 50, 80, 169, 176 

et seq. y 320 
Maxim Gun 184 
May Committee (1931) 3*9 
M'Grigor, Sir James 137 
Mechanical Transport 150, 

160, 165, 320; in the Great 

War 310 
Mechanisation: Board, &c. 

1 88; Directorate 180, 209 


Medals 136 
Medical College, 

Army 141 
Medical Services 50, 72, 120, 


Melbourne, Lord 45 
Mesopotamian Campaign, 

299, 301 
Military Secretary 8, 72, 211, 

Militia 23, 24,46, 51, 59, 62, 

Milner, Lord 306 
Ministry of Munitions 206, 

Ministry of National Service 

Ministry of Pensions 228, 25 1 , 


Mobilisation Branch 72, 97 
Mond-Weir Committee ( 1 923 ) 

3 2 4 

Monk (vide Albemarle) 
Monmouth, Duke of 340 
Mortars 178, 297 
Movements and Quartering 

Directorate 145, 149, 175 
Munitions (Great War) 294, 

Murray, Lieut. -Gen. Sir J. 

Wolfe 288 
Music, Royal Military School 


Musketry 47, 109 

Musters, Commissary- Gen- 
eral of 36 

Mutiny Acts 25, 130, 147 

Napier, General Sir W. 170 
National Association 134 



rsajy, /irmy and Air Force 

Institutes 152, 162 
"Nearest Guard, " The 214 
Nightingale, Miss Florence 

W 53, 139. 345 
Non-Effective Votes 250 
Northbrook, Lord 57, 6 <;, 241 
Northcliflfe, Lord 298 
Numbers of Army 5 
Nursing Services 1 42 , 2 1 5 , 308 

Office Instructions 265 
Office of Works 74, 229, 323 
Officers: Appeals by 132; 
Education no, 267; Pro- 
motion 211 

Officers' Training Corps no 

Operations and Intelligence, 

Director of Military 102, 


Ordnance, Board of 14, 33, 

36, 5> 75> *55> l6 9> i? 1 * 

Ordnance Committee 1 87 
Ordnance Depots 195 
Ordnance Factories 67, 176, 

180, 203, 253 

Ordnance Services: Director- 
ate 194; in former days 
197 ; in the Great War 308 ; 
Inspector 208 
Ordnance Workshops 196 
Organisation: Peace 120; 
War 103 

Pall Mall, The War Office in 

52, 74 

Palmerston, Lord 42, 56 
Panmure, Lord 52, 279, 281 
Parliamentary Bills 221, 266 

Parliamentary Control 26, 29, 

69, 223, 231, 324 
Parliamentary Counsel 267 
Parliamentary Questions 266 
Parliamentary Under- Secre- 
tary of State 7, 9, 79, 172, 

2IO, 214 

Pasley, General Sir George 

Pay Corps, Royal Army 249, 

254, 312, 323 
Paymaster- General 234 
Peninsular War 33, 43, 87, 

138, 159, 170 
Pensions 250 
Pensions, Ministry of 228, 

251, 301 

Pepys, Samuel 225 

Permanent Under-Secretary 
of State 8, 10, 79, 210, 222, 
231 et seq. y 320 

Personal Services Director- 
ate 120, 129, 143 

Petition of Right 23 

Petrol 162, 310 

Physical Training School 109 

Pitt, Rt. Hon. William 86, 

Post Office, General 105, 228, 


Precedence of Corps 338 
Prerogative, The Royal 20, 

26-28, 73 
Press Bureau 290 
Press, The 271, 290, 298 
Pringle, Sir John 138 
Printing 269 

Prisons, Military 132, 323 
Prisoners of War 274, 297, 




Promotion of Officers 61, 119, 


Provisions (vide Supplies) 
Public Accounts Committee 

237, 248, 319 

Publications, War Office 271 
Purchase System 60 
Purveyance 13, 149 

Quartering: History 146; in 
the Great War 307 (vide 

Quarter- Master- General to 
the Forces 9, 70, 80, 144 
etseq., 251,256,320 

Queen Alexandra's Imperial 
Military Nursing Service 

Queen, Her Majesty The 142 

Queen Victoria School 115 

Raglan, F.-M. Lord 177 
Raids, Air and Coastal 292, 

298, 3> 34 
Rail, Movement by 62, 152, 

*5 6 
Railway Training Centre, 

Longmoor 156 
Ration, The 162 
Record Offices 255 
Records, War 273 
Recruiting 120, 125, 143 
Red Coat, The 200 
Red Cross, Use of 269 
Registry, The War Office 262 
Regulations, Army 243, 271, 

Remounts 145, 167, 175; in 

the Great War 311 
Repington, Col. 91, 98 

Research Establishments ^88 
Reserve, Army 5, 59, 77, 124, 

126, 153 

Reserve, Special 85, 90 
Reserve, Supplementary f 5 , 

122, 124, 156, 215 
Reserves of Stores 192 
Resident Clerks 280 
Restoration, Army at The 17, 

146, 157, 255, 277 
Rhine, Army of the 317 
Riddell, Lord 291, 347 
Rifles 47, 109, 183, 205 
Roberts, F.-M. Lord 71, 90, 

i33> 243 
Robertson, F.-M. Sir William 

298, 3?5 

Royal Military Canal 171 
Royal United Service Insti- 
tution 327 

Salonika Campaign 296, 305 
Sandhurst, Royal Military 

College no, 112, 127 
Schools, Educational 114 
Schools for Fighting Arms 

Science, Military College of 


Sclater, Gen. Sir Henry 288 
Schomberg House 74 
Sea Transport 153 
Secretariat, The (Central 

Branch) 59, 68, 70, 258 
Secretary-at-War 15, 33, 36, 

38, 50, 118, 125, 148, 346 
Secretary of State for War, 

Office of 7, 40, 49 et seq. 9 

79, 210 
Seely, Col. The Rt. Hon. 



L E. B. (Lord Mottistone) 

Selection Board 212 

Senior Officers' School no 

Serration Allowance 297, 


Service Departments, Co- 
ordination between 68, 81, 

100, 105, 190, 228, 271, 

Shoeburyness, Ranges at no, 

179, 189 

Signal Stores 180, 320 
Signals, Experimental Estab- 

lishment 189; School 109 
Signals, Royal Corps of 105, 


Small Arms 47, 180, 182, 203 
Small Arms Committee 187; 

Experimental Establish- 

ment 189; School 109 
Soldiers' and Sailors' Help 

Society 134 
South African War (1899- 

1902)71,87,97, 160 
Special Reserve 85, 90 
Staff College 77, no, 112 
Staff Duties Directorate 102, 


Staff, General (vide General) 
Staff, War Office 59, 65, 75, 

329; present numbers 116, 

142, 174, 208, 221, 224, 

257, 282; in the Great War 

93> 2 97 3 OI > 3 2 >3 6 > 3*6 
Stanhope, Rt. Hon. E. 67, 

119, 1 80 

Stanley Committee (1876) 65 
Stationery 239, 269 
Statute of Winchester 12 

Steel Helmets 297 

Stores, General 195 

Stores, Ordnance 145, 194 

Stores, Sales of 226 

Supplementary Reserve 5, 
122, 124, 156, 215 

Supplies: Directorate 145, 
156, 175; in former days 
156; in the Great War 309 

Surplus War Stores, Salvage 
of 316 

Supply Reserve Depot 163 

Surveyor-General of Ord- 
nance 58, 67, 1 60 

Sutlers 157 

Swift, Dean 34 

Tank Corps Central Schools 


Tanks, Design, etc. 185, 191 
Tanks, First use of 301 
Technical Establishments 187 
Technical School for Boys 

Territorial Army : creation 84 ; 

modern r61e 217; Director- 
ate 214 

Thompson, Sir Ralph 282 
Topographical Branch 58, 96, 


Tournament, Royal 265 
Tower of London 14, 177, 


Trained Bands 22, 86 
Training, Directorate of 

Military 102, 105, 117 
Transport: Directorate 145, 

156, 175; in former days 

i 5 8 

Transportation Services 152 

358 INDEX 

Treasury Solicitor 221, 267 
Treasury, The 32, 36, 229, 

233 et seq., 262, 319, 323 
Trooping Season 153 
Trooping the Colour 31 
Typewriting 76, 270 

Uniform : Development of 
199; the New 203 

Vehicles, Fighting 187 
Vessels, War Department 155, 

Veterinary Services 145, 167, 

'75, 3" 
Vickers Machine Gun 184 

Victoria, Queen 46, 55, 62, 

66, 68-70, 140 
Vocational Training 133 
Voluntary Aid Societies 269, 

Volunteers 62, 77, 84, 88, 215, 

von Donop, Major-Gen. Sir 

Stanley 288 
Votes, Army 238, 346 

Wages, Principle of Fair 276 
Walker, Edward 15 
Waltham Abbey 203 
War Material, Production of 


War Office List 329 
44 War Office," The name 51 
Ward, Col, Sir Edward 282 

Waterloo, Forces at 93, 34-4 
Weapons: Development of 

178, 181 ' 

Weir Committee (1923) 319 
Welsh Guards 297 , 

Wellington, Duke of 33, 43, 

45> 47> 93 JI 4> H9 *59> 
170, 177, 198, 328 
Whitehall, The Palace of 30, 

3 2 7 

Whitley Councils 276, 326 
William III, King 25, 33, 37, 

H7> 233 

Wilson, F.-M. Sir Henry 305 
Wilson, Sir Guy Fleetwood 78 
Windsor, Military Knights of 


"Wireless" 105, 133 
Wolseley, F.-M. Lord 65, 66- 

72, 342 

Women's Corps 302 
Wood, F.-M. Sir Evelyn 243 
Woolwich Arsenal 67, 203 
Woolwich, Royal Military 

Academy no, 127, 204 
Word, The 1 35 
Works, Directorate of 145, 

169, 175 
Workshops, Ordnance 196 

Yeomanry 62, 85, 89, 215 
Yeomen of the Guard 213 
York, H.R.H. Frederick Duke 
of 41, 113, 211, 279